Friday, February 3, 2012

Never again

I'm not a very forgiving person. Someone can cross me once, and I might move past it, but the offending party gets bounced out of the metaphorical "Circle of Trust" - yes, the same one that made me laugh out loud when described by Robert DeNiro in Meet the Parents.

If my lack of trust can be construed as a character flaw, I'd like to believe my charitable tendencies compensate for it. Ever since I took home my first pay check, I've supported causes in which I believe. Some years, I put my year end donations on a credit card when my checking account balance couldn't handle the assault during the month of December. You could say that I'm a soft touch.

Many friends (and a lot of acquaintances) have known for years that I'm a sucker. If you want to run the marathon for homeless dogs, academic scholarships or bone marrow transplant kids, or bike for a week to protect the Amazon rain forests, or jump in the ocean in January for lung cancer research, you know I'm not a bad target to hit up.

Like most donors, I confess to having a handful of favorite charities. I prefer causes with low administrative costs and high ratings from independent reviewers like Charity Navigator. The Susan G. Komen Foundation was never on my list of must-support charities, but if a friend participated in one of their events to raise funds for breast cancer research, I'd open my wallet and give generously.

Never again.

Unless you live in a sealed box on the moon, you've heard that Komen yanked its support of Planned Parenthood after many years of fruitful partnership in the area of breast cancer screening.

Why would Komen do this? Officially because some wing nut Senator from Florida wants to investigate Planned Parenthood, and Komen's grant rules disallow its funding of ANY institution facing a government investigation.

Fascinating side note: Komen is still giving $7.5 million to Penn State this year, despite the active government investigation of the university's child sex abuse cover up.

Many observers rightly smelled something off about Komen's logic. Several prominent Komen board members have resigned in protest, rightly saying that the foundation shouldn't play politics with women's health. Today, Komen foundation founder Nancy Brinker was all over the media, struggling to think of an alternate excuse for the foundation's reactionary behavior, and coming up pretty empty.

Another side note: When the leader of an organization keeps changing her story, that is not a good sign.

Planned Parenthood is a favorite target of the right wing lately. Of course they provide abortions, but they also, and far more frequently, provide a range of health services to under served populations of women - a demographic that trends Democratic in national polling. Planned Parenthood also provides millions of citizens with contraceptives. In many rural parts of the country, Planned Parenthood is the only dispenser of the morning after pill for hundreds of miles around.

One in five American women has been a patient at a Planned Parenthood clinic at some point in her life. Most of those visits aren't for abortion services.

Planned Parenthood provides check ups and screenings for breast and cervical cancer. Both cancers have encouraging survival rates if caught early. They provide poor women with referrals for mammograms. Anyone who's ever had health insurance knows that referrals for expensive tests like mammography and ultrasound are ESSENTIAL if the patient seeks reimbursement.

I would wager that the Komen Foundation will bow (soon) to popular demand and re-instate its donation to Planned Parenthood. Heck, as a good will gesture they might even sack the new board member they hired.

Final side note: She was previously an advisor to national joke and intellectual feather weight Dan Quayle. As if that experience qualifies her to serve on a board packed with doctors and public health advocates from the country's top universities.

Back to the main point: I'm not a forgiving person and I have a long memory. If a friend ever asks me to sponsor his or her participation in any event even remotely connected to the Komen Foundation, I will politely decline. I'll explain my reasons, and offer to donate the desired funds to Dana Farber, Planned Parenthood, or some other cancer charity.

I'm sorry Ms. Brinker lost her sister to breast cancer. Her dedication to fighting the disease that cut short her sibling's life is admirable. But the Komen Foundation has lost its way. Its willingness to throw millions of poor women under the bus to appease a few right wing nut jobs within its donor ranks forever disqualifies it as a charity I can support.

THIS JUST IN (11:43 a.m. EST): Komen has reconsidered its insane decision and will allow Planned Parenthood to APPLY for future grants. I'm glad they're (sort of) doing the right thing, but I still will never trust them again.


  1. Full Disclosure, my husband works for PP but my support of them pre-dates him. At any rate, the die has been cast for Komen and even their reversal is a day late and a dollar short. Like you, I will NEVER support them in any way, no matter how tangential. There are far worthier women's causes to get behind than one as cavalier with women's health as Komen.

  2. @It Is What It Is: Indeed. And on an unrelated note, good luck this week.