The Susan G Komen Foundation debacle has been documented. I was prepared to scribble a rant, then noted better prose than I could conjure. Still.. I have a few afterthoughts.
The new position taken by the Susan G. Komen foundation is a wise one. It will not undo the harm. There’s the pity. Or the opportunity.
When I was a young girl, my Mom would never allow me to be with my boyfriend in a home without a parent present. Despite my protests, highlighting my virtue, she would just say” let not your good be evil spoke of” .
Truth told, I have no clue where that maxim came from, but it sounded Shakespearean and wise. Even if I did not always follow it, I tried not to get caught. When Mom told me that Mrs. Molesky had seen me after school, unsupervised in the home of my boyfriend, I gasped at her wisdom. It was a trap. Poor Mrs. Molesky, who had made no such observation, was a means to an end for my mother. I admitted my mistake, made amends, was grounded, moved on.
Susan G Komen was caught in a trap of diabolical construction. I do not have advanced investigative tools, but the surface view indicates that great scrutiny to the Planned Parenthood grants came after Karen Handel became the vice president for public policy. Her stated (hostile) views on abortion and Planned Parenthood were part of an unsuccessful run for Governor of Georgia. After she took the job at Susan G Komen, those views appear to have guided the policy manual revision process, which would deny grants from Komen to any group under inquiry. At the same time, a Florida congressman started an inquiry into whether public money funded Planned Parenthood abortions. Due to the newly revised policy, ANY inquiry– NOT a finding of fraud or wrong-doing- resulted in a “no funding” decision.
ONLY Planned Parenthood lost its funding. Coincidence? Evil? Stupidity? All of the above?
The Komen board notified Planned Parenthood they would not be funded. They did it quietly, so Planned Parenthood would have time to find Plan B. Or maybe because they realized they were bowing to political pressure, and did not wish to be hailed by the right and castigated by the left. Who knows?
What we do know is that Susan B Komen is a polished organization. It was founded by Nancy Brinker, to fulfill a pledge to her dying sister. She has an excellent strategy, from polished media opportunities, galas and fundraisers, to the 60 mile walks which assemble supporters and survivors for the ultimate pep rally. The mission: to create awareness, screening, research and treatment advances for women. What a wonderful resource for women! They excel at doing the gritty work of funding research by wrapping the cancer battle in pink. Pink turned to a bright red blood bath on Thursday.
What we learned is that Planned Parenthood is a contender- they have been picketed, bombed, threatened and defunded over and over. They do not lie down. They mounted a counter attack, in part to demonstrate their commitment to women’s health, and as an aside, to remind those of us who may take our choices and supports for granted, that it was a good time to pony up. I cannot find fault with the fundraising. I admire the battle plan and tenacity. Women may have to adopt these guerilla tactics to remain autonomous in their health decisions. Whether a woman is standing on the pro-life or pro choice side of the great divide, we do not wish to be the battleground for zealots. We just want to have services at the ready, when we need them.
Susan G Komen was not adept at managing the underbelly of the fight for women’s health. Social media, energized, sometimes ill informed and polarized as to the particulars, dragged them into a bitch fight they did not see coming. Their efforts to manage the electronic beast failed.
In fact, they do not wish to fight. No matter how messy this was, theirs is a pro-woman mission. They capitulated, apologized, and life goes on.
Komen’s world is changed, though. Now their financial structure will be examined, costs analyzed, legal fees totaled. The percentage of money that goes directly to research will be scrutinized, other charities will have better bragging rights. The requirement of raising $2300 to Walk 60 miles will be sliced and diced. Their energy will be diverted from important work to damage control…For them, lose-lose.
They let their good be evil spoke of.
Still, this is not a closed book…yet.
I say we keep nattering until Ms. Handel is expelled for her classic manipulation.
I say we do not let a Florida congressman ( Cliff Stearns) demand 10 years of records from PP- a death by papercuts, so to speak- without a formal showing of cause. Target him. Let him feel the wrath of the electronic world. Say to him: leave us alone. Get your politics our of our bras and panties.
I say reward the 26 senators (led by Frank Lauterberg) who sent a message to Ms. Brinker that this was a bad choice for women’s health.
I say we become more aware of back door efforts to eclipse liberties, or to target people or organizations. We cannot confront that which we cannot see. (I am smothering my PAC diatribe here)
Women want to be left alone to make wrenching medical choices and decisions. We refuse to slip in back doors to get birth control or mammograms because other services are proffered in the clinic we frequent. The continuum of life for women includes reproduction, breast and ovarian cancers. We wish for the political process to stand back as we attend to matters of life and death. Komen, Planned parenthood, free mental health and medical clinics- let them provide the safety net for women without irksome meddling of our Congress. Theirs is a never ending medical battleground. Please, do not make our bodies a political battleground.
A dusty ’60’s ad slogan, for cigarettes, ironically, was “you’ve come a long way, baby”. We’d like to think so. During the “come a long way” era, a volume entitled Our Bodies, Ourselves became a staple on women’s bookcases. We learned a lot. Pushed back. Made more informed choices. Let’s not let the muscle we built by wrestling control of our bodies atrophy. We still have a long way to go.
Keep politics out of our personal health choices. And stop infiltrating and bullying not for profits that do the work that often falls into the cracks. You have awakened the beast. We’re watching.