Anger. Outrage. Disappointment. Frustration. Disbelief. Sadness. Grief. Incensed.
When the news broke a few days ago about Susan G. Komen's decision to stop funding breast cancer screenings through Planned Parenthood I couldn't believe it. Why? They effectively said ‘screw you’ to a group of women, most of whom are on the lower end of the socio-economic scale.
So much for finding a cure.
Regardless your political beliefs, Planned Parenthood provides health care for millions of men and women across the globe. They offer preventive medicine, screening and they save thousands of lives every year. They catch cancer,prevent sexually transmitted diseases, and they educate and empower millions of women and men to live healthier lives. In rural communities, Planned Parenthood is often the only health provider that women and men can go to talk about s-e-x, because even after 300+ years, we're still such a prudish society.
But this really isn't even about Planned Parenthood.
This is about a billion dollar philanthropic organization who claims to be solely about finding a cure for an illness that has killed hundreds of thousands and touched millions more. They claim to support 'universal screening',excluding no one.
What does this mean in reality? 'Universal' in name only, providing you're not poor, without health insurance, and get your health care from a provider by the name of Planned Parenthood.
The Atlantic reports that the decision was driven primarily by Karen Handel, Komen's senior vice president of public policy, the arch-conservative former secretary of state of Georgia and loser of a 2010 bid to become the Republican nominee for governor. Handel's been very vocal that she is staunchly pro-life and does not support Planned Parenthood's mission.
Whomever decided that bringing on Handel was a good idea on will probably rue the day they made that phone call, and now it seems, it is just a matter of time until we quietly hear that Handel 'is moving on to pursue other new and exciting opportunities'...
...otherwise known as Step 3 in the PR Damage Control Handbook.
It basically works like this:
PR Disaster ---> massive public fallout
1. Apologize: Wow, you really screwed this one up. Instead of just angering those pesky bloggers, your bread and butter, volunteers and donors, are talking about holding back all those big fat checks. Apologize profusely and repeatedly. Cry those big crocodile tears long and hard. Repeat. Repeat.
2. Publicly reverse your decision: Why? Because nothing says 'We're sorry' like changing your mind.
3. Heads must roll: Nothing says we're sorry, we changed our mind, and we still want your money like giving the public blood. Avoid axing the actual decision makers by pushing a couple mid-level folks off the cliff first.
4. Sink head in sand and wait it out: Eventually somebody else will screw up, another scandal will ensue, and the public will have another group to tongue-lash over their fair-trade lattes. You'll be a distant memory and then by time you eventually pull your head out and go off on a goodwill campaign, everyone should forget, right? (Cue warm, fuzzy tv and brand marketing campaigns full of smiling children, cute kitties, and super model-esque pictures of supposed breast cancer survivors.)
That's what they're counting on. That's what they will be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to some giant 5th Avenue PR firm to tell them what to do over the coming days, weeks and months. (See also, Bank of America)
But I won't forget, I won't forgive, I won't give money, and I encourage you to do the same.
Just like many of you, I've been touched by several women in my life who have fought breast cancer, some whom have survived, others who have not, and I know just as well as anyone the desperate need to find a cure.
But not at this cost.
As someone who has fought an illness for the majority of my life for which there is no known cause or cure and whose daily life is dictated by my illness, I have absolutely zero tolerance for this bullshit.
Komen is allowing their own 1% to engage in a life or death game of Russian Roulette for millions of Americans based on not science, not medical evidence but politics.
It is shameless, it is reckless, and there is absolutely no excuse for it.
In the race for a cure, there's no time or room for politicking or Pink-Washing.
So to the folks at Komen, while your crocodile tears may be many and your apologies frequent, you will never see my money or support again.
I pledge to support research and organizations who don't engage in blatant discrimination, but instead those who are interested in supporting and preventing illness in all people, not just the ones you deem politically appropriate.
I will not forget.