Whether it was intentional or not, the Susan G. Komen Foundation dove head-first into the abortion wars, and they will likely not make it back out. As Kivi Leroux Miller details in this excellent post, the organization is no longer simply a breast cancer charity, it is now a pro-life breast cancer charity. And Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) suggested the next logical step for the Foundation was to become a 501(c)(4) “because no longer did they want to be providing nonprofits, they want to become a political advocacy group.”
Speier drove the point home. “Far be it for us to rely on the House of Representatives holding a hearing as being emblematic of justice because oftentimes it’s a political sandbox,” Speier said. “Now, this investigation is one that has been called on by Mr. Stearns who is the Subcommittee Chair of Energy and Commerce on Oversight. The hearing has never been held. So why would Susan G. Komen take the remarkable step of saying they are no longer going to fund Planned Parenthood?”
Speier did not end there. “I suppose when we review NIH and bring them under some investigation that they will stop funding NIH to the tune of $1 million, or I suppose that when we have a pharmaceutical company that we bring to the hill to ask them questions about a particular activity that they will stop accepting sponsor money from that particular pharmaceutical company.”
What tie Miller and Speire’s observations together is not a pro-choice stance (in fact, Miller makes it a point to note her critique is a marketing driven analysis and not political) but rightly calling out an organization that is supposed to be about saving women’s lives on a policy decision that politicizes and devalues them.
It’s a point not lost on those actually working directly with patients and Planned Parenthood, which is why local Komen affiliates are pushing back and insisting they will continue to keep funding open at the local level. And while this is hardly the first example of women’s lives being used as political footballs, it is perhaps the most offensive since it comes from an organization with an explicit mission to serve women and save lives.
Or at least that was its mission, prior to the lawsuits seeking to protect its branded “Race For the Cure” or its pinkwashing of every aspect of American pop-culture. The Susan G. Komen Foundation long strayed from its mission of battling breast cancer and, much like Narcissus, became so enamored with its own image it lost sight of its worth.
Photo from srqpix via flickr.