6 Things You Need To Know About the Komen Foundation/Planned Parenthood Controversy (Updated: Komen Reverses Decision)
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The corporatization/sanitization of breast cancer that Komen and similar organizations practice has been labeled " Pinkwashing." A new documentary titled Pink Ribbons, Inc. is due out in Canada this weekend. Watch the trailer:
4. Even within this context, this decision was so heated it led to resignations and defections within Komen.
Contrary to the spin put out by Komen, the decision caused tremendous friction within the organization. Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic made some phone calls on Thursday morning, and his sources told him their perception of what happened once the decision was reached:
The decision, made in December, caused an uproar inside Komen. Three sources told me that the organization's top public health official, Mollie Williams, resigned in protest immediately following the Komen board's decision to cut off Planned Parenthood. Williams, who served as the managing director of community health programs, was responsible for directing the distribution of $93 million in annual grants.
Williams offered a statement to Goldberg saying she hoped that Komen and Planned Parenthood would find a way to work together. Meanwhile, several Komen chapters, including affiliates in Colorado and Connecticut, have expressed their dissent with the national group's decision and their desire to stay in partnership with Planned Parenthood locally.
This may explain some of the reason for Komen's eventual reversal.
5. The new policy was created expressly to defund Planned Parenthood, not as a blanket rule.
Susan G. Komen top brass are claiming that the sloughing off of PPFA is purely a side-effect of a new rule that prohibits funding organizations under political investigation. However, Goldberg notes that according to his research, the order was reversed: the investigation was a convenient way to get rid of PPFA.
But three sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut off Planned Parenthood. (Komen gives out grants to roughly 2,000 organizations, and the new "no investigations" rule applies to only one so far.)
But if the "blanket rule" applies to all entities under investigation, why is Komen still funding Penn State? At Mother Jones, Adam Serwer makes this brilliant catch. Komen, he notes,
currently fund[s] cancer research at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to the tune of $7.5 million. Like Planned Parenthood, Penn State is currently the subject of a federal government investigation, and like the Planned Parenthood grant, the Penn State grant appears to violate a new internal rule at Komen that bans grants to organizations that are under investigation by federal, state, or local governments. But so far, only the Planned Parenthood grants appear to have been cancelled.
Sounds like a double-standard is in place.
6. It is widely understood that the anti-gay, anti-choice Palin pal who's a new VP at Komen had a major role in the company's new direction--and replaced a Democratic lobbyist.
Jezebel dubs the aforementioned "no grants to institutions under investigations" rule the "Handel rule," after Karen Handel, the company's new vice-president, plucked from the far-right of the Republican party. Handel got caught red-handed retweeting a nasty little tidbit after the decision was announced, and then later deleted the tweet--but not before the screengrab was captured, with tens of thousands of views already.
This tweet disappeared, but others, revealing Handel's ultra-conservative bona-fides, remain. At Jezebel, Erin Gloria Ryan goes back through Handel's previous tweets:
Handel didn't bother to scrub her earlier political tweets before becoming the Senior Vice President of Public Policy at Susan G Komen for the Cure. Like this one, where she talked about how great it was to hang out with pro-life organizations. Or this one, where she promised to pass a racist immigration law in Georgia, like the one they have in Arizona. Or the celebratory tweets where she's just beside herself that Sarah Palin endorsed her, making her an honorary Mama Grizzly. Or all the tweets where she promised Georgians to get rid of Obamacare— because health care is something you earn, especially if you have cancer, right, non-doctor lady who works for Susan G. Komen for the Cure making health care decisions for poor women?
It seems that just before Handel was hired, a previous Democratic-leaning VP left Komen. Megan Carpentier at Raw Story has dug up information around that staff transition: