Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Komen, I Give Up ...

At the end of every 3-Day, the host repeats, with increasing conviction, "We will never give up."

Never give up on finding a cure, that is. A cure for breast cancer.

And I will never give up on finding a cure.

But today, after many years, I gave up on Komen.

You may or may not have heard that the Susan G. Komen Foundation will no longer give money to Planned Parenthood in accordance with its policy that it does not fund organizations that are under Congressional investigation. (From the New York Times: "A spokeswoman for the Komen foundation, Leslie Aun, told The Associated Press that the main factor in the decision was a new rule adopted by Komen that prohibits grants to organizations being investigated by local, state or federal authorities. Ms. Aun told The A.P. that Planned Parenthood was therefore disqualified from financing because of an inquiry being conducted by Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, who is looking at how Planned Parenthood spends and reports its money.")

ACORN, anyone? ACORN? Anyone can say – and has said – things about organizations in order to vilify them, in order to cut their funding, in order to dismantle them. Truth need not matter. Words have great power, both words that convey truth and words that convey untruth. Sometimes, the latter is more powerful than the former. ACORN is gone. And Planned Parenthood has been dealt several severe blows of late.

The right wing of this country clearly has it in for progressive organizations. In 2010, the right campaigned – successfully – on the issue of job creation. In 2011, 80 new abortion restrictions were enacted. States passed 162 new measures for reproductive rights in the first half of last year.

Senator Jon Kyl famously stood on the floor of the Senate chamber and stated that "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does" is provide abortions. Way to lie into the Congressional record, Senator.

In fact, only 3 percent of services provided by Planned Parenthood are abortion related.

Three percent.

Not 90 percent.

Three.

His office later commented that Senator Kyl's absurd claim was "not intended to be a factual statement."

In other words, it was a lie.

Also, from Huffington Post: "Komen's new vice president, Karen Handel, had run for governor of Georgia in 2010 on an aggressively anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood platform."

So is today's news coincidence? Of course not.

But this is not a post about abortions. Abortions make up a very small percentage of the services and procedures performed by Planned Parenthood.

Do you know what Planned Parenthood provides a lot of?

Cancer screenings.

Breast cancer screenings.

Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in this country. Komen has raised billions of dollars over the years. The amount it gave to Planned Parenthood was small, but that small number enabled Planned Parenthood to provide a lot of services.

It is unconscionable to me that an organization founded on the promise to find a cure for breast cancer would eliminate funding for an organization that is, for many women, their only source of healthcare.

Over the years, I have participated in seven 3-Day events. I have walked more than 400 miles on those events. I have raised nearly $20,000 for Komen.

That ends today.

Many friends have voiced their concerns about aspects of Komen. Until today, I chose to focus on the good it was doing, knowing that no organization is perfect.

But this is a step too far.

I have friends who have registered for Komen events this year. They are left not knowing what to do. I advised them to call Komen and cancel their participation, to eat the registration fees, and to find another outlet to continue the quest for a cure.

I cannot imagine trying to fundraise on behalf of Komen from the day forward.

I will continue to do whatever I can to help find a cure for breast cancer.

But Komen, on you, I give up.

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