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Komen and the Smear on Planned Parenthood: Swiftboating Tactics From Abortion Zealots

| February 3, 2012

Time for a ribbon-cutting.

The Susan G. Komen foundation is a marvel of modern marketing. The organization turned the entire month of October pink, and did with the word “pink” what quarterback Tim Tebow managed to do with his last name: turn it into a verb. “To pink” means, or meant, linking a brand or an entire organization to the multibillion charity campaign known as breast cancer awareness. When even NFL players, firemen, garbage men, high school track athletes and of course presidents ribbon themselves in pink, you know you’ve achieved something historic. And lucrative. The Komen foundation raised $420 million in 2010. It is chiefly responsible for fostering the national conversation about a disease that kills 40,000 women annually. The foundation spends tens of millions of dollars a year on public health education, research, breast cancer screenings and treatment.

Now Komen is about to throw much of that away over the stupidest marketing decision in its 30-year history.

Pierre Tristam FlaglerLive editor

Pierre Tristam

The Live Column

Earlier this week Komen decided to cut off the $700,000 in grants it gave Planned Parenthood. It claims it did so because it’s worried about what Cliff Stearns, the Florida Republican congressman and anti-abortion zealot, might turn up in his inquiry of the organization, which gets routinely harassed by government auditors. That’s bunk, of course. Komen cut off Planned Parenthood over its support of abortion, even though the money Planned Parenthood received from Komen paid for some 170,000 clinical breast exams in the past five years.

The money lost represents a small fraction of Planned Parenthood’s budget. All of it will be made up as men and women rally around the organization. It’s no secret why: Planned Parenthood helps far more people (providing care to one in five women, for starters) than does Komen. Abortion services account for 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s work (it performed 330,000 of them last year). That compares to 1 million screenings for cervical cancer, 4 million screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and contraceptives provided to 2.2 million people, free, through 840 centers across the country. Critics of the organization can’t seem to bring themselves to applaud its work for basic health care, work neither government nor private insurers are providing. They should at least applaud it for preventing unwanted pregnancies and reducing the number of abortions more effectively than wasteful abstinence-education programs and Medieval true-love-waits campaigns.

But we’re talking sense and evidence here. The war on Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with either. It’s an ideological slander of opportunity by reactionary echo chambers—the radio shout shows, the Fox phalanxes, the congressmen looking for attention, the pandering vote-seekers. They look for a soft target to beat up and satiate the faithful, largely by whipped up inventions or exaggerations. They find. They seize. They swarm. Three months ago it was Solyndra. Three years ago it was Acorn. Three elections ago it was John Kerry’s Silver Star libel. Three decades ago it was the National Endowment for the Arts. Now it’s Planned Parenthood.

Komen had a choice: Stick with rational neutrality or surrender to political contamination. Komen surrendered. It’s insulting to anyone’s intelligence to have to spell this out, but there’s no connection between abortion and breast cancer. There ought never to be a connection between health care and politics, least of all desperately necessary care with genuine benefits. Komen’s insult, before it belatedly reversed course this morning, was to have let the colorless hysteria of anti-abortion crusaders smear the pink hope of hundreds of thousands of women.

Planned Parenthood is not going to be hurt. To the contrary. It will reap big windfalls from this. It’s an ironic twist on Komen’s marketing miracle, making fertility of Komen’s bullet. But there’s nothing to celebrate here. Komen’s brand is blighted. And women will suffer. An organization that had been a model of non-partisan enthusiasm let fear and fanaticism tarnish a 30-year legacy in the only war worth fighting in this whole disgrace: the war on cancer.

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13 Responses for “Komen and the Smear on Planned Parenthood: Swiftboating Tactics From Abortion Zealots”

  1. You are printing trash here people.

  2. Donna De Poalo says:

    It angers me beyond belief that women’s health is being politicized in this manner. Regardless of which side you fall on regarding abortion, women everywhere should be taking a stand against anyone who plays these power games with our lives.

  3. Angela Smith via Facebook says:

    From what I just read on Yahoo, they’ve not only reversed this smarmy decision, they’ve also apologized. Sorry, Ms. Handel; the damage is done, and it’s a case of “too little, too late”. Now it’s time to deal with the consequences of your bigoted actions.

  4. tjm says:

    IF people really understood ( or paid attention ) the origination of Planned Parent Hood. There would be no funding for it at all. It was founded by a Millionaire Lady from Texas. I wish I could remember her name. She later in life became Pro Life and admitted it was founded to control the birth rate of mainly the black population in this country.

    SORRY FOLKS you can’t claim to be a Christian and be Pro Choice..

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Her name was Margaret Sanger, she believed that birth control would give women more control of their live til the day she died, and the eugenics (That’s controlling the balance of race and other factors in a society, Homer) that was debated at the start of the organization was never championed by Sanger and never made part of it’s mission.

      And I’ve found out unfortunately you can claim to be a Cristian and not be particularly well read. Even the Bible.

    • jespo says:

      Right….because god will burn you in hell for eternity for not loving him back and following the rules…great reason to tell a 12 year old girl she has to have the baby after her drunken uncle raped her.

  5. Kendall Clark-StJacques via Facebook says:

    I agree with Angela. Despite Komen’s change of heart I will never support them again and in fact will go out of my way to avoid supporting them. Instead, when asked to donate to Komen I will send money to Planned Parenthood’s Breast Cancer efforts or to another Breast Cancer charity.

  6. mike bencal says:

    You can’t say you want to fight cancer and withhold donations just because the Komen Foundation doesn’t give to Planned Parenthood. Just doesn’t make sense!

    • jespo says:

      It does make sense. Politics and religion should have no place in medical treatment or disease prevention. If an organization is going to decide who gets assistance and how they are assisted based on a belief principle then they are unworthy of donations from those whose beliefs differ. It’s a bitter pill handed back to its giver. Besides, there are other charities.

  7. palmcoaster says:

    Maybe this politically driven event by a new extreme conservative executive appointed, probably will be the start of the Planned Parenthood self funding with all our support. Next 5K races for cancer research, may not exhibit the historical pinks any longer. At least my child will not be paying the $70 to compete in each Komen marathon. We will be looking for Planned Parenthood to come up with its own colors and its own physical fitness sport event instead.
    @Sharon; what is really garbage is what Komen did.

  8. K says:

    Mike, You can fight cancer without supporting Komen. There are countless other organizations that work to find a cure for breast cancer as well as other types.

  9. rickg says:

    The very idea that an organization with such status would deny women whose economic means dictate that they go to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening is totally indefensible. I don’t care what you might think or believe about fetal masses, but I think a potentially fatal mass in a living and breathing women’s breast is more important. Its time to get real.

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