Karen Handel, the Vice President of Public Policy for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, has announced her resignation over the controversy with Planned Parenthood. Again, this only proves the power of citizen engagement. Well done. The Washington Post
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has reversed its decision to withdraw funding to Planned Parenthood after the efforts of activists and politicians demonstrated the gravity of the mistake. This proves the power of citizen engagement and, more cynically, the power of threatening funding bases. Keep up the good work! CNN
It just has to be said. The recent decision by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to cut its funding for Planned Parenthood is a part of the on going war against reproductive rights in this country; a war being brought by the religious right. I have previously written about attempts by the GOP to overthrow Planned Parenthood (The Abortion of Title X), and of the bellicosity of the religious zealots who make up the Tea Party (TheTea Party Hates America). The guns are aimed, once again, at Planned Parenthood, yet this time the religious right is attempting to enforce their theocratic demands from a remarkable platform: one of the most respected organizations working on protecting and caring for women with breast cancer. This is a despicable move, and one which highlights the true fissures in American society. There is no war on religion in America. However, religion has declared war on America.
Even Planned Parenthood is blaming this recent move on politics. "We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure. Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, discussing the dropped funding. But let us not mix words: the Komen Foundation is not bowing to political pressure, they are bowing to religious pressure. Sure the line between the two is a fine one, but that is exactly the problem. This is an attempt by the Komen Foundation which has been co-opted by religious fundamentalists to deny women the ability to exercise their reproductive rights. Even worse, however, is that the Komen Foundation is willing to sacrifice one of their strongest allies in the fight against breast cancer: Planned Parenthood. In order to score a point for Jesus, they are willing to let women suffer. Not only is this sad, it nearly fits the definition of insanity.
Planned Parenthood preforms a wide range of services. One of these happens to be preforming nearly 750,000 breast exams every year. As far as abortions are concerned, they only make up 3% of Planned Parenthood's health services and are not funded by federal money, as per federal regulation. However, the Republican establishment which runs the Susan G. Komen Foundation has decided, in its infinite wisdom, that cutting funding to this organization is the best way to move forward with its mission of aiding America's women. And while Komen's founder, Nancy Brinker, is assuring people that the decision was not based on Planned Parenthood's abortion services, the former Chief of Protocol for the Bush Administration is far from convincing. For starters, last year's hire of Karen Handel is telling of the direction the Foundation is wanting to go.
Handel is the former Secretary of State of Georgia and a recent contender for the Governor's office. Running as a Republican, Handel staked out a strong position based on her “pro-life Christianity.” In 2010 she wrote the following: “I am staunchly and unequivocally pro-life. I believe in the sanctity and inherent dignity of human life, and I will be a pro-life governor who will work tirelessly to promote a culture of life in Georgia. ... let me be clear, since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.” And while no direct link has been established tying her to the recent decision by the Komen Foundation to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, the position she currently holds is Vice President of Public Policy. If she did not have a hand in the decision, it means she was derelict of duty. Make no mistake, Vice President of Public Policy, former anti-choice gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, Karen Handel is directly involved in the current absurdity.
Can Planned Parenthood make it without the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation's support? Yes. Last year the Komen Foundation gave Planned Parenthood $680,000; within one day, after Komen's decision to cut ties with one of their strongest partners, Planned Parenthood was able to raise over $650,000 in small donations. The issue isn't whether or not Planned Parenthood is going to have to close down, but that it is being taken to task in the first place. The Komen Foundation has attributed their decision to an on going investigation into Planned Parenthood's finances to ensure that no federal dollars are being spend on abortions. As of now, no wrong doing has been identified. However, as in all theocratic regimes, in the eyes of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, you are apparently guilty until proven innocent. Shame.