“Pink ribbon = Anti-abortion?” Komen’s commercialism, right-wing tilt under scrutiny

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What a disaster. The Komen Foundation backed down today from its decision earlier this week to join God’s Army, rename itself Pray for the Cure, and defund Planned Parenthood. NYT: “The reversal comes in the face of an enormous furor over the decision and widespread complaints that the Komen foundation was tying breast cancer to the abortion issue.”

But the damage to its reputation may be irreparable. First, attention has focused on its religious right Board members who remade the organization into a right-wing political campaigner. Nation:

Because while you were shaking your head over pink Bibles and stem-cell futurology, Komen was hiring Karen Handel as senior vice president for public policy. Handel is not your typical philanthropy administrator. She is a Republican pol, a former Georgia secretary of state, who ran in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, with endorsements from Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and anti-immigrant finger-pointing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. At that time she described herself as “staunchly and unequivocally pro-life,” opposed to stem cell research and a fan of crisis pregnancy centers—places that have repeatedly been shown to use scare tactics and misinformation to dissuade women from seeking abortions. She vowed to eliminate from the state budget pass-through grants to Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screenings.

More here from Democracy Now!

Second, with impeccable timing comes Pink Ribbons, Inc., which argues that money, not health, may be even more fundamental to the group’s agenda than GOP talking points:

Komen should have stuck to fighting breast cancer rather than fighting against the right of women to control their own bodies.

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7 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I've written about the contamination of

    philanthropy by capitalism before. It’s an epidemic. Stand for Children is another example. It’s political war waged by charitable means.

  2. Read between the lines

    I do not believe the io Komen foundation overturned the decision. What was stated was “We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.”. Funding EXISTING grants and preserving their ability to apply for future grants does not guarantee future funding.

  3. They didn't reverse anything

    Their statement said that they’d allow Planned Parenthood to *apply* in the future, not that they’d necessarily continue it. That way, they can let this all die down, then reneg later after the media moves on.

    RyansTake   @   Fri 3 Feb 8:45 PM
  4. Posted on my blog

    This link to a Marie Claire expose (of all things) on “The Big Business of Breast Cancer.”

    It outlines all the orgs that have been caught basically stealing money from donors, as well as the “pinkwashing” that happens.

    This Gin and Tacos post is really good, too.

  5. Nothing will change while ...

    Nothing will change so long as right-wing tea-party anti-abortion extremist Karen Handel sets public policy for the Komen Foundation. I’m reminded of the right-wing attempt to take over the Sierra Club a few years ago. The Sierra Club ultimately prevailed — the Komen Foundation has instead gone to the dark side.

    It’s time to pull the plug on the Komen Foundation.

    • Why is Karen Handel still with Komen for the Cure?

      If there was any question about Komen for the Cure attempt to defund Planned Parenthood as anti-choice zealots playing politics with women’s health, Huffington Post answered all questions. Huffington Post viewed internal emails via a source within Komen that directly points to Karen Handel as pulling the strings to purposely defund Planned Parenthood and the method in which they would do it.

      Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the nation’s leading anti-breast-cancer charity, has insisted that its since-reversed decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood arose from a routine change in criteria for grant eligibility that had nothing to do with abortion politics.

      But a Komen insider told HuffPost on Sunday that Karen Handel, Komen’s staunchly anti-abortion vice president for public policy, was the main force behind the decision to defund Planned Parenthood and the attempt to make that decision look nonpolitical.

      “Karen Handel was the prime instigator of this effort, and she herself personally came up with investigation criteria,” the source, who requested anonymity for professional reasons, told HuffPost. “She said, ‘If we just say it’s about investigations, we can defund Planned Parenthood and no one can blame us for being political.’”

      Now that we know Komen for the Cure tarnished it’s core mission, what are they going to do about it? The biggest question in my mind is my is Karen Handel still with the organization? Why hasn’t she been asked to resign or be fired?

      Jezebel sums up Komen’s situation nicely:

      For being a “pro woman” organization, Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s leadership sure seems to think women are stupid. And before Komen gets back to curing breast cancer, they better cure their own case of bullshit. This is no longer an issue of funding or not funding Planned Parenthood— this is an issue of an institutional dishonesty and ham-fisted attempts to obscure an obvious political agenda.

  6. This is just one more reason

    for me to keep Koman off my donations list, even when friends and family participate with the best of intentions in their “walk for the cure”. I have always felt annoyed at making small token donations to “support” people I love, privately wondering whether the money was doing any good and or perhaps even being counter-productive. Koman has almost never funded research into the causes of cancer, especially environmental causes. My other concern has been the amount of money that actually got spent on research and services vs pink paraphernalia, administrative salaries, and fundraising expenses. The Planned Parenthood flap is the last straw for me.

    Here are some hard-hitting articles that opened my eyes even further:

    Six things you need to know about the Komen Foundation

    How the Komen Foundation fights health reform and fails cancer patients

    Welcome to Cancerland by writer and cancer patient Barbara Ehrenreich. I found this article especially thought-provoking as it questions the prevailing cheerfulness that mainstream breast cancer charities encourage in patients. I have nothing against cheerfulness except when it glosses over the fact that thousands of women still die each year of this nasty painful disfiguring disease. The promotional items, the walks, and the camaraderie mask the fact that progress has been slow and that vested interests have worked in ways that discourage prevention.

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