Komen’s Ambiguous Apology


Katha Pollitt notes how insincere Susan G. Komen For the Cure of Anti-Choice Women Foundation’s apology is. In other words, their apology is mealy-mouthed double talk, carefully crafted by their new PR firm, Oglivy, to try to avert some attention, but nothing really changed.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation must have been totally unprepared for the firestorm provoked by its announcement that it was severing its long relationship with Planned Parenthood, which for at least five years had been receiving grants to provide low-income women with breast exams and mammogram referrals. Komen showed itself to be both dishonest and ridiculous: there was its initial long silence over the decision, followed by a flurry of flimsy and inconsistent explanations—first it was that Planned Parenthood was being investigated by Representative Cliff Stearns; then it was a change in criteria for funding. And what PR genius advised it to childishly delete negative comments on its Facebook page? Result: Planned Parenthood was deluged with donations to keep its breast care services going, including a $250,000 matching grant from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; twenty-two senators signed a critical statement; there were resignations among staffers and open rebellion among volunteers. Andrea Mitchell’s interview with Nancy Brinker on MSNBC was as close to open distaste as that very polite journalist ever gets. Mitchell is herself a breast cancer survivor, and the expression on her face as she questioned Brinker was as if she were steeling herself to pick up a dead mouse.

The massive show of prochoice strength worked. Friday morning Komen released a statement apologizing for its decision and acknowledging the unfairness of cutting off PP because of the Stearns investigation: “We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.

(Forget for the moment that Brinker denied the investigation had anything to do with the ban on PP). This is excellent news: Komen has in essence admitted that the Stearns probe is politically motivated, which must sting recently hired senior VP for public policy Karen Handel, who publicly favored defunding PP when she ran as a Palin-endorsed candidate in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary.

But the rest of the statement is less clear. It continues:

We will continue to fund existing grants, 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.

This has widely been taken to mean Komen has backed down completely, i.e., will return to making grants to PP. But look more closely: that is not what it says. Komen says only that it will fund “existing grants”—that means, it will fund grants it has already formally agreed to make. Well, it is legally required to do that, isn’t it? It can’t rescind a grant on the basis of a rule made after the grant was offered. The original banning always referred to the future, and as to that, Komen says only that PP can apply for funding, not that Komen will continue to make grants to it as it has for many years. Nothing prevents Komen from altering its criteria in ways designed to exclude PP—for example, as Brinker suggested to Mitchell, deciding against funding breast care outside of mammogram centers.

And what about the bit about allowing affiliates “to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities?” Does that mean affiliates will be free to refuse to support PP, setting the stage for state and local anti-choice takeover efforts? It’s all rather unclear, and much too soon to declare victory and go home. It could mean a lesson well learned—but it could be just spin. After all, Handel, whoever hired her and whoever approved the original ban on PP are still there.

(click here to continue reading Komen’s Ambiguous Apology | The Nation.)

Party Girls On the Go
Party Girls On the Go

By the way, the Tea-Bagger hack, Karen Handel, handpicked by Nancy Brinker, resigned today:

In her resignation letter, Handel insists that “the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization.”

But as Bassett also reported, according to a source at Komen: Komen’s been dealing with the Planned Parenthood issue for years, and you know, some right-wing groups would organize a protest or send out a mailing every now and then, but it was on a low simmer […[ What Karen’s been doing for the past six months is ratcheting up the issue with leadership. Every time someone would even mention a protest, she would magnify it, pump it up, exaggerate it. She’s the one that kept driving this issue.

There really is no question that Karen Handel joined Komen last year with an agenda to defund Planned Parenthood. That was part of her platform during her failed, Sarah Palin-endorsed run for governor in Georgia; it was clearly part of her mission at Komen too. For the past week, Brinker has insisted that Handel had nothing to do with the decision, and that the decision had nothing to do with politics.

But it has become increasingly clear that Nancy Brinker is lying. And now Handel has confirmed it.

(click here to continue reading Daily Kos: Someone from Susan G. Komen for the Cure is lying. And her name is Nancy Brinker..)

Little Pink House
Little Pink House

karoli of Crooks and Liars adds:

I’m certain we will be hearing about how Handel’s resignation is the result of a witch hunt sparked from the left’s outcry. However, I note that there was nothing political about Komen until they chose to rebuke Planned Parenthood based upon an investigation opened for nothing other than political purposes. Mitt Romney’s leap onto the bandwagon is evidence of how such a decision played out, as is Komen’s decision to involve Ari Fleischer in the planning and execution of their strategy.

When you hear the screams and shrieks from the right wing, just remember that the Komen Foundation had been pressured for years to withdraw their support from Planned Parenthood, but until the arrival of Karen Handel, they hadn’t actually done it. At one point, Komen had actually issued a statement in support of their grant decisions to Planned Parenthood. Here is an excerpt:

The grants in question supplied breast health counseling, screening, and treatments to rural women, poor women, Native American women, many women of color who were underserved — if served at all — in areas where Planned Parenthood facilities were often the only infrastructure available. Though it meant losing corporate money from Curves, we were not about to turn our backs on these women. Somehow this position translated to the utterly false assertion that SGK funds abortions.

And somehow, when Karen Handel came on the scene, this all flipped around so that those women suddenly didn’t seem as important. Who politicized what, again?

(click here to continue reading Karen Handel Resigns From Komen Foundation | Crooks and Liars.)