February 1, 2012; Source: SignOn.org | Yesterday, NPQ reported on the defunding of Planned Parenthood by Susan G. Komen for the Cure—an action with political overtones and one which we pointed out carries enormous risks in terms of alienating Komen’s base of supporters. As we suggested would likely happen, people are quickly voting with their purses and signatures. According to Fox News, as of early last evening, Planned Parenthood had received $400,000 from 6,000 donors to be put towards screening and at least two petitions have begun; many signatories are saying that they are previous Komen donors who are withdrawing support and transferring it to Planned Parenthood.
Credo Action and SignOn.org have started petitions online and the comments accompanying the almost 26,000 signatures gathered via SignOn.org by early yesterday evening included these:
I support the Susan G. Komen organization because it has been pro-woman, which means pro-choice. I will not support any organization that believes it’s okay to take an woman’s right to make her own choice away from her.
This is a very sad development. I will not donate to the Koman Foundation until they resume their relationship with Planned Parenthood and I will urge my friends to do the same.
I have just celebrated my 11th year of surviving breast cancer. I am DISGUSTED and DISAPOINTED that you have STOPPED support for PLANNED PARENTHOOD. I will NO longer look for PINK RIBBONS when I purchase products. How could you fight so hard for your sister and CUT care to all the uninsured SISTERS out there? SHAME ON YOU!!!!
These sentiments mirror those in comments on our own site. Meanwhile, portions of an interview conducted two weeks ago with Planned Parenthood Executive Director Cecile Richards indicate that these attacks on Planned Parenthood may be crystallizing support around the agency. Says Richards, “It was the first time, really, we’d ever seen Congress go after Planned Parenthood as an organization—not just being against choice or other issues—and to make a foursquare effort to get rid of the entire family-planning program in the United States, and to have such a big vote on it in the U.S. House was historic. They named us by name, and women really identified with this. It wasn’t just ‘well, times are tough, we’re going to cut family planning services,’ it was literally we’re going to tell women they can’t go to the major family-planning provider in this country.”
Sign up for our free newsletters
Subscribe to NPQ's newsletters to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.
“That was stunning and it’s interesting looking at it now, a year later,” Richards said. “Our support actually grew over the past year, not only in terms of activists and particularly a lot of young people who had never been active on issues related to Planned Parenthood, but also just in the American public’s eye and I think it was because there was such a focus on services we provide, the breadth of health care we provide, and I think you’ve seen all the numbers on Congress at record lows.”
Apparently, even some members of the Komen network are disturbed by the action taken. In Connecticut, the Komen affiliate declares on its website that the decision was made at national headquarters and that it has enjoyed a “great partnership” with Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “We understand, and share, in the frustration around this situation,” the notice said. “We hope that any investigation prohibiting Planned Parenthood from receiving Komen grants is promptly resolved.”
Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic reports that internally, the decision has caused a firestorm. He was told by three sources that the managing director of community health, Mollie Williams, who was responsible for distributing grants, immediately quit in protest. Although Goldberg was unable to get a statement from Williams, he says that John Hammarley, formerly Komen’s senior communications adviser “Mollie is one of the most highly-respected and ethical people inside the organization, and she felt she couldn’t continue under these conditions” He went on to add, “The Komen board of directors are very politically savvy folks, and I think over time they thought if they gave in to the very aggressive propaganda machine of the anti-abortion groups, that the issue would go away. It seemed very short-sighted to me.”
Hammarley also revealed that the issue had been under discussion for some time, “About a year ago, a small group of people got together inside the organization to talk about what the options were, what would be the ramifications of staying the course, or of telling our affiliates they can’t fund Planned Parenthood, or something in-between…As we looked at the ramifications of ceasing all funding, we felt it would be worse from a practical standpoint, from a public relations standpoint and from a mission standpoint. The mission standpoint is, ‘ How could we abandon our commitment to the screening work done by Planned Parenthood?”
In the same article, Goldberg cites another source who says that the rule Komen used to defund Planned Parenthood was established for the express purpose of affecting the defunding. He cites the anonymous source as revealing, “The cart came before the horse in this case…The rule was created to give the board of directors the excuse to stop the funding of Planned Parenthood. It was completely arbitrary. If they hadn’t come up with this particular rule, they would have come up with something else in order to separate themselves from Planned Parenthood.”
NPQ will continue to keep you up to date on this historic case. In the meantime, we would love to continue to hear readers’ opinions and ideas.—Ruth McCambridge