The Komen Controversy: Definitely Political

I will not be wearing a pink ribbon this October. Nor will I collect any pink yogurt lids, buy any pink wristbands or eat any chicken that comes in a pink bucket. (I’m a vegetarian, but that’s not the point.)

I no longer trust Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

This week’s “Komen-tastrophe” first angered me, then elated me and has now confused me. On Friday, it seemed that Komen had decided to continue funding Planned Parenthood after all. Now, it’s not so clear.

Their statement announcing the reversal contained two things that were puzzling. First, it did not say that the foundation would continue funding Planned Parenthood, as many people seem to think. All it says is that Planned Parenthood’s current grant is still valid, and that the group would be “eligible” for future grants.

Second, the statement explained that Komen’s revised policy would only exclude funding for groups facing criminal investigation. This criterion leaves Planned Parenthood eligible, but disqualifies Penn State’s cancer research institute—which Komen is also funding.

This is all very fishy.

Before Friday’s reversal, Komen gave two reasons for cutting Planned Parenthood’s funds. The first was their new policy concerning government investigation. The second was that Planned Parenthood does not perform many mammograms, but instead issues referrals to women who need them—so Komen concluded that they’d do better to fund groups that actually give mammograms and eliminate the intermediary step.

Komen’s latest statement addressed the first reason, but not the second. If Komen decides not to continue Planned Parenthood’s grant when it expires next year, the mammogram referral issue would be an easy excuse.

Komen officials maintain that none of this week’s actions were politically motivated. Considering that Karen Handel, their vice president who resigned on Tuesday after only 10 months with the organization, is staunchly against Planned Parenthood, that sounds unlikely.

I suspect Komen won’t renew Planned Parenthood’s grant, especially if they think no one will notice. As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow pointed out on Thursday, Planned Parenthood has been under sustained attack for the past 18 months, yet this is the first instance of widely-reported outrage by Planned Parenthood supporters. If Komen thinks they can sidestep the angry mobs, Planned Parenthood won’t get funded.

My original, unpublished blog post on this topic, which I wrote during the elation stage of this weekend, concluded that Komen understands that women’s healthcare is not a political issue. How ironic that the longer this controversy continues, the louder Komen shouts that it isn’t about ideology, and the clearer it becomes that actually, it is.

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