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Things are looking so bad for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, leadership there is probably looking back at last week as the good ol' salad days, when the biggest problem was national outrage at a new policy to defund Planned Parenthood.
In the past week, though, things have gone from bad to so, so, so much worse. Lena H. Sun and Sarah Kliff at the Washington Postreport:
Before the Komen board unanimously agreed to pull funding for Planned Parenthood last year, an internal staff review and a board subcommittee had concluded the opposite, that funding should be maintained, according to a former Komen employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. [Karen] Handel, who was senior vice president for public policy, objected to those decisions.
And why did this subcommittee conclude that it should continue to fund Planned Parenthood?
Participants concluded that cutting off all funds would endanger low-income women who depended on the service. A partial cutoff would only compromise the integrity of the grants process and not be enough to satisfy critics, participants said. Staff members decided to recommend continued funding for Planned Parenthood.
“It was our recommendation that we stay the course,” [former senior communications advisor John] Hammerly said. “We thought there could also be significant concern, both from a public standpoint and an affiliate standpoint, if we ceased support.”
Ah, the obvious reasons. Cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood's cancer screening and prevention programs would be bad for both low-income women and Komen's sterling reputation. Therefore, the subcommittee advised against it.
And yet, somehow—and totally unrelated to Karen Handel's aggressive campaign within the organization—the full board unanimously overruled the subcommittee's recommendations and decided to screw over low-income women and the Komen brand. Why, it's almost as if Komen cared more about political ideology than women's health!
Make no mistake: Handel did launch an aggressive campaign when she joined Komen last year. She "significantly ramped up" questions about Komen's relationship with Planned Parenthood, which is hardly a surprise, given that she'd run for governor of Georgia the previous year on a "staunchly pro-life" platform, promising to defund Planned Parenthood if elected. When the voters told her no, she just took those promises to the Komen foundation and tried to find another way.
And somehow, despite the understanding that defunding Planned Parenthood would be bad for women (and Komen), the board went along with Handel's agenda.
Komen has offered several explanations for its decision, none of which are credible. One fact, though, has become increasingly clear: there was a push within the organization to defund Planned Parenthood for political and ideological reasons. And, sadly, the board knowingly sided with politics instead of with women.