News Round-up: Susan G. Komen vs. Planned Parenthood
Between Pfizer’s major recall of birth control pills (if you haven’t checked your packs yet ladies, do it now!) and the news-dominating debacle between the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood, it’s been quite the week for women’s health in the news.
If you’ve had a little trouble keeping up, we’ve got just the solution—a round-up of the best coverage on the web. Read on to find out what exactly went down this week between Komen and Planned Parenthood.
Up until this week, the Komen Foundation has given grant money to Planned Parenthood ($680,000 last year) in order to help fund breast cancer screenings and mammogram referrals. On Tuesday, the foundation announced that it would be withdrawing this support, citing a criteria that prevents the foundation from funding any organization currently under investigation (which Planned Parenthood is—an investigation led by a Florida congressman is trying to determine if the organization is violating the law by using federal funds to pay for abortions).
Though Komen claimed the decision was not for political reasons, between the nature of the Planned Parenthood investigation and the recent hire of Komen executive and staunch pro-lifer Karen Handel, it seemed a little fishy. Pro-choice or not, many people out there who are pro-women’s health were less than thrilled with the decision. And they weren’t very quiet about it. The social media landscape quickly exploded with dissatisfaction towards the Komen Foundation, with many long-time Komen supporters announcing their loss of allegiance.
While the insults were flying at Komen, the dollar bills were flying at Planned Parenthood—in just one day, it raised almost as much money as it had lost in the funding cut, including promises from New York City Mayor Bloomberg and Livestrong to match donations up to $250,000 and $100,000 respectively.
In a scramble to revive it’s image, Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker stated that there had been a misunderstanding and that the real reason for the funding cut was that Planned Parenthood does not actually provide mammograms, only mammogram referrals, and that Komen would prefer to fund organizations providing direct service. When this still did not help Komen's case (and in fact caused more speculation about the real reasons behind its actions), Komen announced on Friday that it would be reversing its decision. The wording used, however, leaves some supporters unsure as to whether Planned Parenthood will actually continue to receive Komen's funding in the future.
While everything may seem like it’s back where it started on Tuesday (and Komen would certainly like this to be true), below the surface Komen has likely caused some irrevocable damage to its image. Whereas before Komen was a non-partisan organization (after all, nobody is in favor of breast cancer), it now seems to have taken some sort of political side—though nobody is quite sure whose. Pro-life supporters don’t want to support Komen while its funding an organization that provides abortions, and pro-choice supporters don’t want to support someone who cut funding to an organization that provides so much more than just abortions. And nobody knows how much of what the Foundation says they can believe after the slew of “misunderstandings” this week. All of this sums up to “one of the worst weeks in terms of public relations of any organization in recent memory.”
Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, made over $3 million in private donations this week, gained a great deal of public support, and ended the week with far more political power than it started with.
Throughout the week, Brinker has been lamenting that all this debate is distracting from the Foundation’s real goal of fighting breast cancer and caring for women’s health. And I would love to be able to say that only five days after this whole mess began, it’s been resolved and we can all get back to the common goal of taking care of women’s health. Unfortunately, this issue has been around long before the Komen/Planned Parenthood flare-up, and will continue long after. As long as women’s health is tied up with politics, there will be distractions and debates—and as long as abortion is tied to women’s health, it will be tied up in politics.
The best thing we can do as individuals hoping to support women’s health is to bypass the political debate. Find organizations that you support, and give your money to them directly. Do your research, find out where your money is really going, and if you’re not comfortable with it, then find a different organization to back.
And, most importantly, make sure you’re caring for your own health through regular self-checkups and annual doctor’s appointments. Because if you’re not healthy, how can you help others?
Photo courtesy of Gloria Bell.
Erin believes in the power of content to spread ideas, build communities, and engage and delight people—which is why she spends her days helping employers and brands do just that. During her time at The Muse, Erin has also worn the hats of personal website expert, video producer, Shutterstock wrangler, master lunch-packer, and company librarian. Erin is always looking for new places to explore on the weekends, and she almost never says no to tea and a croissant. Invite Erin to tea at eringreenawald.com or on Twitter @erinaceously.More from this Author