Photo Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/Afp/getty images
Talk about power to the people! After the news broke Monday that the Susan G. Komen Foundation was pulling almost $700,000 in grant money from Planned Parenthood, pretty much everyone got mad. And we do mean everyone, from public health advocates, to feminist organizations, to 26 state senators, to Mayor Bloomberg (who gave Planned Parenthood $250,000) and an awful lot of everyday folks just like you and me, who were buzzing about it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites: 6,000 of us raised $400,000 in the first 24 hours after the announcement alone. And if it seemed like you couldn't refresh your Facebook page without seeing five more links to petitions asking Komen to change their minds, you weren't alone: Credo Action reports that it received over 250,000 signatures.
Well, it worked: Our voices were heard. This morning the Susan G. Komen Board of Directors and CEO Nancy Brinker released a statement that begins with an apology "to the American public" and goes on to explain that "we will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants."
That means the 170,000 low-income American women who might have otherwise missed their breast cancer screening this year will have access to this essential health service.
It also means that the anti-choice advocates that pressured Komen to drop Planned Parenthood's funding in the first place lost this round. They tried to play politics with women's health -- and we didn't allow it. Breast cancer doesn't care who you vote for, how much money you make, or where you stand on Roe v. Wade. It happens everywhere, to anyone, and that's why we need organizations like Planned Parenthood to continue to offer comprehensive women's health services to patients who can't access them anywhere else.
But think twice before you repin that pink ribbon because the Komen Foundation isn't off the hook just yet. For starters, it's worth noting that they're only now reversing the decision after it became a PR nightmare. That doesn't show character or integrity -- it shows they're really sorry we caught them out this time. What's more, they're still denying that their decision to pull the funding was at all political. "We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not," the official statement reads.
Komen claims that the decision was motivated by a "fiduciary duty to our donors" to withhold funding from "organizations under investigation," as Planned Parenthood is currently being investigated by anti-choice Representative Cliff Stearns (R-Fla). But as Erin Gloria Ryan reports on Jezebel, the Komen Foundation has given money to plenty of organizations under investigation — including a whopping $75 million to Penn State, while it's being investigated for its role in the Sandusky scandal. That's... awkward. And it's just the tip of the iceberg. Meanwhile, Komen was receiving tons of pressure from anti-choice groups to drop Planned Parenthood -- and hired an anti-choice senior vice president in April 2011.
So here's what would really impress us, Komen Foundation: Admit that you succumbed to Mean Girl tactics from the anti-choice movement and be honest about what it's like to deal with that kind of pressure. Expose how those organizations are throwing women's health under the bus every day by trying to undermine awareness and outreach efforts about diseases like breast cancer -- which shouldn't have a thing to do with politics in the first place.
In the meantime, if you signed a petition, made a donation, or even just tweeted about Komen this week -- pat yourself on the back. Because at the very least, more women are going to catch -- and have a chance to fight -- their breast cancer this year. And we made it happen.
See how our iVoice Stephanie Dulli reacted when she heard Komen was pulling funds yesterday: