Was Komen’s decision ‘political’? Only because Planned Parenthood can’t have it any other way (Updated)

UPDATE at 11:25 a.m.: Well, the pro-abortion rights folks’ politicization of this decision had its intended effect: The Komen organization is, at least in part, backing off its earlier decision. Congratulations, Planned Parenthood: You’ve officially turned a leader in breast cancer research into another of your subordinates.

Let this be a warning to any group thinking of teaming up with Planned Parenthood in the future: You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave.

ORIGINAL POST:

The founder and head of Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure did an interview with the Washington Post that casts the cancer-fighting organization’s highly charged decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood in a different light. For starters, Komen isn’t really stopping its funding of Planned Parenthood, just sharply curtailing it: Komen will give grants to just three Planned Parenthood clinics rather than the previous 19. CEO Nancy Brinker explained the change this way: “We have decided not to fund, wherever possible, pass-through grants. We were giving [some of] them money, they were sending women out for mammograms. What we would like to have are clinics where we can directly fund mammograms.”

Whether that dampens the excitement of anti-abortion activists who’d cheered the decision remains to be seen. Judging by the comments below the Post’s story, however, pro-abortion rights activists aren’t going to accept this rationale any more than the initial explanation that Komen wouldn’t support organizations that are under investigation. This decision has already become as hyper-politicized as anything relating to abortion.

That’s the real story here. I can think of no organization, beyond political parties themselves, that is more politicized than Planned Parenthood. That’s because no issue is more politicized than abortion, and Planned Parenthood provides one in four abortions in this country. Nor are we talking about a shy political operator: During the past two decades, it has spent almost $31 million on campaign contributions and another $6.5 million on lobbying to push its cause (and, one assumes, keep government funding flowing).

Anything done in regard to Planned Parenthood, then, is bound to be deemed “political” by someone. It’s “political” for governments, or organizations like Komen, to give money to Planned Parenthood. It therefore becomes “political” for any entity to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood.

To act as if stopping the funding is any more “political” than the original decision to begin the funding is absurd.

If you disagree, tell me this: How exactly could Komen have decided to part ways with Planned Parenthood what wouldn’t have been decried as “political”? Having giving to Planned Parenthood once, was Komen bound either to continue giving forever or to suffer a smear campaign by Planned Parenthood and its supporters once it stopped?

If so, that’s not advising Komen to “stay out of politics.” It’s mob-style blackmail. Nice little charity you’ve got there. Shame if anything happened to it.

Planned Parenthood and its supporters are right about one thing: Fighting breast cancer shouldn’t be “political.” There are plenty of truly apolitical organizations and public agencies through which Komen can effectively work. But now that Komen has decided that working with Planned Parenthood isn’t the best way to achieve its goals, the supposedly  anti-”political” types seem determined to make sure Komen is considered “political” from now on. And that’s a far worse sin than anything Komen committed by stopping funding to 16 clinics.

At its heart, this episode is about the broader movement to make everything “political”: the personal, the private, everything. This movement is primarily a cause of those on the progressive left, including a great many supporters of Planned Parenthood, who see no limits on what ought to be the sphere of government and, thus, politics. So, spare me the tears about a “political” action against little ol’ Planned Parenthood.

(Note: Normally, my first post on a Friday is a Poll Position question, and I was originally going to make the Komen decision the subject of today’s post. Then I decided I wanted to make a stronger statement of my own opinion on this story. A Poll Position post about a different topic will be posted later today.)

– By Kyle Wingfield

Find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter

430 comments Add your comment

getalife

February 3rd, 2012
10:46 am

“Strong job growth: Employment up 243,000″

We are back.

Thank you President Obama.

Four more years!

Mikemeyster

February 3rd, 2012
10:48 am

Totally disingenuous article here.

Mr. Wingfield, how else should reasonable minds understand the hiring of a GOP political operative to head public policy at the organization? A NON-political move?

bub

February 3rd, 2012
10:48 am

Yet another man spouting his hate for women’s health clinics. There are like a millions pathetic pro-Komen-hate-PP articles out there today. EVERY ONE written by a man. And an ugly man, too.

AKA282

February 3rd, 2012
10:54 am

Mr Wingfield,
Your spin is commendable. Call it what you want – but the fact is Komen was way behind this (PR) from the get go, and the back paddling continues from them, and a few like yourself.
You sir, are not a woman. You cannot get pregnant. You have no say.
One of the most successful charities of modern day – and you attempt to justify proper means for cutting funding to an organization that works hand in hand with Komen, ensuring a healthy world for females rich and poor.
You sir, are the politics in this.

Mister.Earl

February 3rd, 2012
10:55 am

The era of Medical McCarthyism has begun. When fundraising for medical causes becomes politicized as the leaders of Susan B. Komen have just done, everybody loses.

The right wing’s complete overreaction to everything they do not like reminds me of the little child who doesn’t like it when the food on their plate touches, like when their beans are touching their potatoes.

These extremists want everything to be so neat and clean and pure, but life simply isn’t like that, it’s messy. We live in a community, an ecosystem made up of things we might not like all mixing together.

To insist that thousands of health organizations and their funding and policies all meet some extremist litmus test or else be given the death penalty is the ultimate death panel. As a result of this new front in the culture wars, people will likely suffer, and some may die all because some zealot decided to embrace Medical McCarthyism.

As the right wing attempts to eliminate or cleanse Planned Parenthood of all types of contraception, the question is who is next? The answer is, everything, and everybody. No one is exempt.

- John Small, New York

Ernest T. Bass

February 3rd, 2012
10:55 am

“Strong job growth: Employment up 243,000″

We are back.

Thank you President Obama.

Four more years!

Amen

We are finally getting back from the failed “trickle down”, give all the money to the rich and everything will be wonderful, failed economic policies that have almost ruined us twice.

A little more time and we can probably get back to balancing the budget again.

Mister.Earl

February 3rd, 2012
10:56 am

How revelatory that NOT ONE REPUBLICAN Senator contacted Susan Komen to protest its irrational decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood!! Not ONE. They are apparently happy to see poor women, who can’t afford access to breast examinations, die from neglect of the condition. Maybe they realize that these women (if they vote at all), mostly vote Democrat. So they are disposable, in the eyes of the Mad Dog Republicans fringe that has taken over a once-respectable political party.

– HIggsBoson2, reader, The Washington Post

Ernest T. Bass

February 3rd, 2012
10:58 am

Its funny how conservatives want the government out of our lives …..

Unless its something they agree with. Then they are all for the government stepping in.

Mister.Earl

February 3rd, 2012
11:01 am

“However, anyone who knows me personally would tell you that I am an advocate for women’s health,” the statement said. “I have dedicated my career to fighting for the rights of the marginalized and underserved. And I believe it would be a mistake for any organization to bow to political pressure and compromise its mission.”

– Ms. Mollie Williams, Former managing director of community health programs at the Komen foundation, who departed this month, just weeks after the decision on the funds. She was responsible for overseeing the distribution of $93 million to more than 2,000 community health organizations.

bu2

February 3rd, 2012
11:03 am

Money is fungible. Planned Parenthood is under investigation because they have apparently moved money around to do things that were not funded. Planned Parenthood has proven they are a political organization (note-its all Democrats complaigning) and with their smear campaign have proven that Komen should never have done business with them in the first place.

wallbanger

February 3rd, 2012
11:06 am

I am not sure why it is anyone’s business how Komen spends its money. You can quit giving money to it if you don’t like what it does with the money. In fact, if you are charitable, you might consider strongly funding something like the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, which is horribly underfunded given the numbers of people who have to live with this, literally, gut-wrenching disease every day of their lives.

Intown

February 3rd, 2012
11:07 am

I think the real story is that breast cancer services and research will suffer as a result of Komen’s decision.

David

February 3rd, 2012
11:12 am

How about telling the truth for once, Mr. Wingfield (something you and your right-wing ilk are consistently unable to do.

Why hasn’t Komen pulled funding for other organizations under investigation (Penn State University and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, to name just two)?

You failed to mention the bullying tactics Komen has demonstrated over the years? Why is that?

You failed to mention that Komen is a BPA denier, despite the fact that over 150 respected scientific organizations have proven there is a BPA-cancer link? Odd, considering Komen is supposedly a leader in the fight against cancer.

Want more? Let me know. Just please tell the truth for a change.

Millz

February 3rd, 2012
11:13 am

Here’s how you can tell that Komen’s motivation was political: look at the timeline of events and look at the way they have changed the reason they cut off funding.

Timeline of events: hire a extremely conservative politician as director of public policy, change the policy to deny funding to groups under investigation, cut off funding to a group under investigation by a single extremely conservative politician, announce that the reason for the defending was because of the investigation, then after several days of uproar announce change the reason to pass through funding.

Of course Komen is free to fund the organizations it chooses, but if those choices are unpopular and involve politicians, they and their supporters should not be complaining about a backlash by calling those who disagree blackmailers.

Kyle Wingfield

February 3rd, 2012
11:14 am

Intown: How so? Do you think Komen is just going to sit on that money that used to go to PP? If it suffers, it’s only because political operatives trump up this “political” decision to show how much weight they can throw around. And I won’t blame Komen for that outcome.

ByteMe

February 3rd, 2012
11:14 am

The initial explanation of why SGK wanted to break off relations was “we don’t want to do business with organizations that are being investigated.” Who’s doing the investigating of PP? Republicans in Congress looking to curtail abortion services.

How is this NOT political from the start?

Mr. Holmes

February 3rd, 2012
11:14 am

Weak, Kyle. Really weak.

At least the Right could earn some respect by owning up when it acts on its beliefs (see: Mitt Romney’s evolving explanation for his “very poor” comment). But no, they act, then when called out on their callousness/greed/utter lack of human compassion, the dissembling begins.

NickOLess

February 3rd, 2012
11:16 am

Nice try. If you had any cred as a reporter (or even someone who can run a Google search) you’d be able to follow the political stink back to Karen Handel, Komen’s new VP. Google her and draw your own conclusions.

http://jezebel.com/5881642/meet-the-komen-exec-behind-the-planned-parenthood-defunding

Planned Parenthood is the only organization to fall into the new “Handel Rule”, which other Komen employees are describing as specifically designed to punish PP.

But barring all that, PP provides a much-needed service to the poor. But why should a rich white man care about that?

Kyle Wingfield

February 3rd, 2012
11:17 am

Btw, I’m still waiting for someone to suggest an apolitical way in which Komen could have decided not to fund PP anymore.

And in the meantime, it appears the pro-abortion folks got what they wanted from their politicization of this decision.

Clay

February 3rd, 2012
11:17 am

Well, Kyle. As of 15 minutes ago, Komen just reversed their decision. Guess you will need to rewrite your article now, won’t you? Apparently, some conservative organizations were also being “investigated” and that made the rationale untenable.

Kyle Wingfield

February 3rd, 2012
11:19 am

NickOLess: And if you knew anything about Karen Handel before yesterday, you’d know she was tarred as “extremely liberal” on abortion when she ran for governor in 2010. The irony of these attacks on her now boggles the mind.

Mr. Holmes

February 3rd, 2012
11:20 am

Btw, I’m still waiting for someone to suggest an apolitical way in which Komen could have decided not to fund PP anymore.

Your question assumes a nonpolitical *decision* to end PP funding in the first place. Which–c’mon, let’s keep it reall–does not exist in this situation. First give me a nonpolitical reason to do it, and I’ll give you the explanation.

ByteMe

February 3rd, 2012
11:25 am

Your question assumes a nonpolitical *decision* to end PP funding in the first place. Which–c’mon, let’s keep it reall–does not exist in this situation. First give me a nonpolitical reason to do it, and I’ll give you the explanation

Bullseye!

UGA 1999

February 3rd, 2012
11:25 am

Kyle….well done. Nice article.

getalife

February 3rd, 2012
11:26 am

More good news.

Komen caves restores funding for PP.

Mr. Holmes

February 3rd, 2012
11:27 am

Meh, too much multitasking, I misread your question. But upon a closer read, it makes even less sense. Both organizations are committed to women’s health, and they’ve been partners for some time. So what are some possible reasons to end this partnership? Corruption, mismanagement, change of mission/direction … those are the big ones that come to mind.

Had their been legitimate evidence of any of these, Komen could have simply trotted it out and the media s**tstorm would have been much less. But the best they could do was point to a nakedly partisan investigation launched by a lone GOP House Rep.

So your question makes little sense on its face. Absent any legitimate reason like the one above, how could this decision not be political? What, they just woke up one day and decided they didn’t want to give $$$ to excrement acronyms?

getalife

February 3rd, 2012
11:28 am

We are back,

cons don’t know what they are talking about.

UGA 1999

February 3rd, 2012
11:29 am

Why are those on the left having such an issue with Komen’s decision? They are a private non-profit company that can pick and choose who and when they want to fund. This is NOT and entitlement to PP.

Kyle Wingfield

February 3rd, 2012
11:29 am

Mr. Holmes: No, you’re assuming a political decision to end PP funding in the first place. My point is that the politics of this is in the eye of the beholder. So, I want someone who believes this was political to explain what kind of explanation would have been accepted as apolitical.

Because you want an example: If the reason given to the Washington Post, which I mentioned in my OP, had been the first statement made by Komen, would you have accepted that as apolitical?

ByteMe

February 3rd, 2012
11:30 am

Why are those on the left having such an issue with Komen’s decision?

Why are those on the right going to have an issue with Komen reversing their decision? :)

David

February 3rd, 2012
11:31 am

carlosgvv

February 3rd, 2012
11:31 am

Roe vs Wade has been the law of the land for many years now. If Republican politicians and anti-abortion activists don’t like it, they have every right to challenge it in the courts. However, since they are convinced they’re right and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong, they can and will attack and attempt to undermine Roe vs Wade anyway they can. If this means putting the squeeze on Susan G. Korman to abandon Planned Parenthood, clearly they won’t hesitate to do this. And, if some poor women die because of this, their extreme Christian convictions will allow them to be conscience free.

Mr. Holmes

February 3rd, 2012
11:32 am

If the reason given to the Washington Post, which I mentioned in my OP, had been the first statement made by Komen, would you have accepted that as apolitical?

Sure, I would have accepted it … if it weren’t so bloody clear they were LYING, Kyle. Please note they didn’t exactly stick to that initial reason. Doesn’t the fact that they’ve had, what? Three explanations now? Doesn’t that raise some red flags for you?

Look you raise good points on many issues, and I’m glad the AJC gives you a forum. But are you seriously going to contend this decision was not politically motivated? Please give us more credit than that, because even you don’t believe it.

mikey

February 3rd, 2012
11:34 am

I am afraid it is too late for the Komen foundation. It’s long-term prognosis for survival is not good. In one fell swoop, it has lost all its goodwill and credibility. The donations and funding will eventually shrivel up. It is best to close shop and start fresh with another organization that is not tainted with right-wing politics.

ByteMe

February 3rd, 2012
11:37 am

The vast majority of people who work their butts off to raise money for SGK are women.

The vast majority of people using PP’s services are women.

Seems like a really bad marketing decision, regardless of whether they backtrack.

DannyX

February 3rd, 2012
11:39 am

Looks like Komen has indeed caved in to the pressure and will restore the Planned Parenthood funds.

UGA 1999

February 3rd, 2012
11:40 am

ByteMe….Who said they are going to reverse the decision. They aren’t!

UGA 1999

February 3rd, 2012
11:40 am

ByteMe….Not all women are for supporting a company that is under investigation. Also not all women are pro-choice.

ByteMe

February 3rd, 2012
11:41 am

The statement calls the backlash over the decision to cut the funding “unsettling,” and says that the organization will “amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”

“We will continue to fund existing grants,” the statement says, “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.”

See, Kyle? Wasn’t what you said the reason was for cutting PP’s funding.

UGA 1999

February 3rd, 2012
11:41 am

Oh wow they did…I am shocked.

ByteMe

February 3rd, 2012
11:42 am

ByteMe….Who said they are going to reverse the decision. They aren’t!

They did, silly.

ByteMe

February 3rd, 2012
11:43 am

So, Kyle, was SGK’s decision to reverse their earlier decision political or apolitical?

:lol:

ByteMe

February 3rd, 2012
11:44 am

… or are we moving on to the poll position question now? :)

Kyle Wingfield

February 3rd, 2012
11:44 am

Mr. Holmes: I will readily acknowledge Komen has completely botched its message on this decision. (Which, incidentally, makes me even more inclined to believe it’s not the “political” organization it’s now made out to be, given that most “political” organizations are usually better at messaging.)

That said, I still have a hard time believing any rationale would have been taken at face value when it involved cutting funding to PP, if only because the propriety of PP’s funding has been discussed at various levels of government for about 25 years now — raising the level of sensitivity about PP’s funding among people on both sides of the issue.

The basic point remains: No action regarding PP and its funding will be accepted by its supporters as apolitical. The takeaway, which I believe ultimately hurts PP, is that any decision to fund that organization will be considered permanent — so, if you think you ever might want to walk away from PP, better not to do business with it in the first place.

Kyle Wingfield

February 3rd, 2012
11:44 am

ByteMe @ 11:43 & 11:44: Ha!

griftdrift

February 3rd, 2012
11:46 am

“How exactly could Komen have decided to part ways with Planned Parenthood what wouldn’t have been decried as “political”?”

Simple Kyle. Don’t use as cover an overly broad policy that says you won’t fund anyone under investigation by any local, state or federal official. Then pull the funding of a group who just happens to be under investigations by a particular congressman.

Sorry. But how is that not political?

Mr. Holmes

February 3rd, 2012
11:47 am

Congratulations, Planned Parenthood: You’ve officially turned a leader in breast cancer research into another of your subordinates.

Please. Are you seriously contending that Planned Parenthood orchestrated the backlash over the past two days?!? What a joke, but so very typical. Whenever the public is clearly–CLEARLY–opposed to something the Right wants, then there must be some conspiratorial wizard behind the curtain pulling all those voters’ strings.

This decision was Komen was tremendously, *tremendously* unpopular, and they “caved” to the will of the vast majority of their supporters. But I’m sure Planned Parenthood somehow found the resources to contact >80% of the women in this country to spur them to action.

griftdrift

February 3rd, 2012
11:48 am

And to address your last comment,

“The takeaway, which I believe ultimately hurts PP, is that any decision to fund that organization will be considered permanent — so, if you think you ever might want to walk away from PP, better not to do business with it in the first place”

And if you want to do business with Komen, you better hope some congressperson, state senator, dog catcher with a beef against your organization doesn’t start an investigation.

Consistency cuts both ways.

Kyle Wingfield

February 3rd, 2012
11:50 am

Mr. Holmes: At the risk of promoting PP, I send you to the PP Action Center. Top of the page: “Stand with Planned Parenthood.” To the right of that: “Sign up for action alerts.”

Gee, do you think all the PP folks who signed up for “action alerts” might have gotten messages imploring them to “Stand With Planned Parenthood”? Don’t you suppose that represented a great deal of the backlash?

Disingenuity

February 3rd, 2012
11:51 am

Planned Parenthood was politicized by the right, when they decided that women’s health and reproductive rights were the purview of the government, despite all their ’small government’ shrieking. Don’t play dumb. Pro choice activists don’t have any interest in deciding for other people what they can and can’t do, that is all anti-choice supporters. The right plays politics with life or death issues, then cries foul when their opponents respond with politics. You’re just mad that the pro choicers are more technologically savvy and can raise awareness in ways that you small minded bigots can’t seem to muster. Feel free to cling to the past, but the future will arrive regardless.