Friday, February 3, 2012

Why it Matters: A Pink Reflection

The blogopshere, specifically, the Catholic blogosphere has been alive for four days with the sounds of people singing the praises of the Susan G. Komen Community for announcing it would no longer fund Planned Parenthood via its grants to do referrals for breast cancer.   Given that they were easily one of the most popular and visible charities around, one has to ask why did they do this?

Some said it was political.  Right wing politically active conservatives had been leaning on the Komen foundation.  If they were, it explains why Romney was able to gain the higher ground in the GOP primaries.  Clearly those right wing vast conspiracy types were focusing on the wrong target. 

But maybe they just wanted to eat their favorite brand of yogurt in good conscience.  I'm not saying there isn't a political element. Where there's money, there always is a political component. But I'm literate. I'm political. I'm pro-life. I'm invested. I'm involved.  I haven't heard anything.  Shoot! I must have the wrong decoder ring. 

So why did Komen open this ugly can of worms? Why would they invite the grief they've endured since, so much so that there is some recanting going on?

Part of it was addressing the fact that Planned Parenthood is under Federal and several state investigations for medicade fraud and other abuses.  Part of it was yes, the Pro-life activism which alerted the general public and specifically, those who hold that we must not support an institution that performs abortion, that the Susan G. Komen foundation did in fact give money to Planned Parenthood.  Part of it was probably the exposes by Live Action and the testimony of people like Abby Johnson in her book Unplanned, about her conversion from being an administrator of a Planned Parenthood facility to becoming Pro-life, and Lila Rose's videos and James O'Keefe's investigations. 

Then there was the personal component, the moral reasonings of Nancy G. Brinker, the founder of the Susan Komen foundation.  She stated as such in her video youtube speech attempting to articulate her rational for the policy change.  Another reason given was that Planned Parenthood doesn't do mammograms. Komen was eliminating a middle man and having the funding go to institutions that actually do the screenings. And I'm sure there are other reasons that I haven't discerned.

Based on Facebook alone, the world exploded.  Suddenly Nancy G. Brinker despite 30 years of work, 30 years of raising money and awareness about the causes and treatments and screenings for breast cancer, was an evil woman and her foundation did no good, because it decided to distance itself from Planned Parenthood. After all, she made over half a million a year as CEO.  EVIL 1%er.  EVIL. Everyone should stop buying pink right away to shame Komen. I saw post after post after post. 

Speaking up became a matter of shall I be silent when I agree with Komen to keep the friendship?  But I couldn't stay silent.  If they will boast of  standing with Planned Parenthood, then they must know, I will tell them, there are other places that deserve your loyalty more, that could do what you want done without the taint of blood and death.

Stating that one applauded Komen was tantamount to hate speech.  Which brings me to why I'm writing. Abortion is the unspoken ugliness that divides us.  The debate itself is so politicized that no one is considered to believe what they believe out of good faith anymore.  Further, if one person or organization switches sides, they are immediately condemned.  Komen was publically scourged for switching sides.

There was no consideration by those who disagreed with the Komen foundation's new policy that perhaps there were other places that could do the screenings and provide treatment and assessment for breast cancer that didn't come with baggage.   It must be a religous conspiracy. It must be stopped.

Not knowing the mind of this CEO, I still can imagine that she might have thought about it pragmatically; if pro-lifers were not buying pink ribbon products because of Planned Parenthood but everyone else was buying pink products to stop breast cancer, then if we stopped funding Planned Parenthood, everyone would buy pink products to help find a cure for breast cancer!  It's a simple and even reasonable mistake. Nancy thought everyone was buying pink products to cure breast cancer, not to fund Planned Parenthood. 

As a pro-lifer (and I am), I've wanted to participate in the 3 day walk for life and buy the pink stuff, but I haven't.  So I'm a zealot I guess, because like it or not, no matter how much good medical care the offices may do by providing screenings and pap smears and the like (and I'm ceding this turf in an attempt to appear reasonable), they still participated in a fundamental evil, aborting around an average of 289,750 a year.  That they may do other good things does not eliminate the fact that they do this grave evil thing a lot of times.  It means they should stop doing the evil thing, because it is evil.

I got told that it was only 3% of what Planned Parenthood does.   That abortion is 3% of what they do, or 10% which is what the Washington Post said, or more from other sites, is irrelevant. That they did other good things is also irrelevant. The trains ran on time is not an argument.  It is an inditement.

Komen had decided to not renew grants or allow further grants from Planned Parenthood. Those who are prolife rejoiced and ran out to buy pink stuff. The outcry on the opposite side as a result was that a Caliphate had taken over. Hoop dresses and tee-totalling would surely be next.  We were condemning women to die by wanting to not fund a charitable organization that does perform abortion via grants from another charitable organization.  Pro-lifers, right wingers, Christian zealots!  The moral equivalent of pond scum in the eyes of those for whom choice is paramount over life because we who disagreed wanted to be able to give to this charity in good faith. 

I will say, this public fight over abortion, (and that is what the fight is about), has been instructive. I have learned that Planned Parenthood does provide contraception, but with respect to screenings, it mostly does referrals for actual mammograms.

I've learned that there is a solid perception that Planned Parenthood is necessary especially in poor neighborhoods because otherwise, people wouldn't be able to receive necessary medical care. I've learned that people think anyone who disagrees with Planned Parenthood must hate women and want them to die.    I must have been bombarded 20 times with notes indicating that Planned Parenthood was the ONLY choice in poor neighborhoods. 

A quick google search in DC said, that's not true.  A second one in New York indicated that wasn't true either.  I typed in "Where Can I Find a Free Mammogram in...insert city" and "Where can I get a free breast cancer screening?"  respectively.  Planned Parenthood was not the first, second or third page worth of searching. Now I admit, I didn't do a search for every major municipality, but the first two I did, Planned Parenthood didn't have a site in the first three pages of Google. If they were there, they were there stealthily, clandestine, not public, hidden under a few imbedded links within the site. Instead there were hospitals and Church affiliated health centers and Universities offering for over 40, for uninsured, for low or no cost. Some even offered rides.   So I don't know how people (rich or poor) would know to go to Planned Parenthood for these services.  They don't even advertise.

What was Planned Parenthood losing? Was the organization going to be utterly crippled? Susan G. Komen awarded them $700,000 last year, a grand total of 0.058 percent of Planned Parenthood's annual revenue. This is nothing compared to the $360 million that the US government gives the organisation every year (33 percent of their total budget).

So let's break this down.  Planned Parenthood has 820 offices.  They have an opperating budget of 1 billion. Using the percentage of .058, the annual total revenue of Planned Parenthood including grants is $1,206,896,552.00, meaning $206,896,552.00 comes out in excess of expenses a year, and each office brings in if all things were equal, $1,471,825.06.  That's a lot of money.  The CEOs at individual affiliates are well compensated too, with many making over 200K. If the $700,000
 were divided over all 820 offices, it would come out to a loss of $853.00 per clinic.  Boo fricken hoo.

Meanwhile, the Susan G. Komen charity for those brief 4 days it changed it's mind publically, had an uptick in donations of 100% or 1 million dollars in new revenue as reported at Planned Parenthood had pulled in an additional $400,000.00 and all without filling out those pesky grant papers, almost half a mill in content string free money.

And now we have the limbo of the Susan G. Komen foundation trying to do damage control.  I still went to the store and consciously looked for something pink to purchase.  All I could find was batteries. I needed batteries so I bought them. Will I buy pink in the future?  I'm as iffy at the moment as the foundation itself, but I bought in good faith and I will let myself be content with that. 

But what this has really revealed, is the most sacred thing for each of us: we have set before us fire and water, life and death.

Editorial Note: Where'd she get her stats? Her information?
 and and
and full disclosure: I read the Washington Post, the Daily Mail, Life News, Drudge Report and yes...wikipedia for both Komen and Planned Parenthood.


Maria said...

Excellent, Sherry. Too bad they flipped back, but it opened some eyes.

Aimee said...

Saw this from a link on Facebook. Excellent explanation, thank you!

The Palidin's Best Friend said...

Excellent work tracking this information.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!