Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood–my response

As a major supporter and fundraiser for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, many people are looking to me for my thoughts and opinions on yesterdays’ announcement  regarding funding to Planned Parenthood.

Let me start by saying I am not in favor of Komen’s decision. As a person deeply concerned about women’s health, I understand the immense value of Planned Parenthood. 

To further complicate a very politically charged issue, Komen did not handle this announcement effectively.   

Where did they go wrong?

  • Komen decided to pull its Planned Parenthood funding just six months after the hiring of Karen Handel–who adamantly opposes abortion–as vice president of public policy. In my opinion, the politics of abortion has no place in a breast cancer research foundation and I think it’s a huge shame that Komen has let this issue affect its mission.
  • Komen took nearly 24 hours to issue its own statement with regards to this funding. This gave the press and social media time to explode. Susan G. Komen was not part of this conversation, and it should have been. When they did issue their statement, it was too little too late. They’re now mired in a public relations nightmare and it’s going to be hard for them to recover. Even though Komen still contributes money to many other healthcare organizations that provide breast cancer screening (as well as mammograms), they’ve done damage by cutting off the well-known and much beloved Planned Parenthood.

I’m certain, the team at Komen is locked in a room desperately trying to find a way to recover. At least I hope they are.

So why do I, a passionate supporter of Planned Parenthood, also continue to stand so firmly behind Susan G. Komen? Because you see, I’m not convinced I would have the opportunity to write this blog had Komen not contributed what they have to breast cancer research over the past 30 years. Would I be alive? Would I be living the life I always dreamt I’d live? Who’s to say? The drugs, the treatments, the awareness, the advancements–so many of them come down to what Susan G. Komen has done for us. I’m terrified at the numbers of people that are professing to never give them another dime. What will this mean to breast cancer research? How will it affect our daughters, sisters and friends? This really scares me.

I know there are other organizations raising funds for breast cancer research. One of them, FORCE, is near and dear to my heart. I believe these other organizations can contribute and I will support them. But today, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the strongest force out there. They are making a real difference in breast cancer  treatment. They are saving lives. We need them.
So, to the team at Susan G. Komen, please find a way to make this right. Do what you need to do to get your supporters back on board. I wish the answer was easy but we all know it’s not.
To my friends, supporters and fellow teammates–please don’t let this change your commitment. If you’re outraged by Komen’s decision, show it by making a donation to Planned Parenthood. But please don’t pull your support from Komen.

We need this research. We need this funding. We need to find cures and we need to save lives.


Posted on February 2, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Ellyn:

    I really couldn’t have said it better. Well, except the survivor part. 🙂


  2. Ellyn: Thanks for your honest and well written comments. We will definitely continue to support Komen until we are convinced that there is another organization that will be as successful at fighting this terrible disease.


  3. Komen also doesn’t give to the Global Fund for Women, Human Rights Watch, GreenPeace, AA, the ADL, or the United Negro College Fund. But how does any of that discredit the amazing strides Komen HAS made–and will continue to make with our support–in the breast cancer movement?

    That an organization does not always support various causes outside its primary objective should not tarnish the good it has done in supporting its own noble mission.

  4. Ellyn,

    Thank you for this beautifully written letter that so aptly reflects my own feelings. Would you be opposed to me using parts of it in a letter I would like to send to our donors? We are 13 X walkers in the 3-Day and I feel obliged to let our donors know our feelings. I’ve been so emotional about this that I’m having a very difficult time articulating how I feel. Parts of your letter would help me tremendously.

    Many thanks.

    Kathy Giller


  5. @michael: however komen did not very publicly PULL funding from any of the orgs you named. and therein lies ALL the difference.

  6. Thank you everyone for your nice comments. Kathy, feel free to send my blog post with your letter. Good luck with your fundraising.

  7. Well said!

  8. Well done, babe! Gonna link to this post in a post on my own little blog.

    Dani G

  9. I came here from Dani’s blog. I agree. I’m seeing lots of social media ‘friends/followers/whatever’ so fed up with the decision that they’re really down on the organization, but it was a fascinating story to watch unfold. SGK essentially unraveled internally when it was all said and done. While the policy statement came from the organization, it was CLEAR that the organization (as represented by the faces serving high ranking positions within it) did not support its own policy. Threatened resignations were piling up like kindling and I’m glad that they finally changed their stance.

    I read an article that said both organizations won. . .from a fundraising perspective. I know PP certainly did. They’d replace SGK’s funds within a DAY of the announcement, and now those funds are back. . . win/win??

    I think SGK has a black eye, but I think they’ll recover. It didn’t take long for them to “do the right thing” and reverse the decision. I’d have been MUCH madder about it had they stuck doggedly to their respective guns but I think it was clear VERY early, that it was not a popular decision even within their own organization.

    I hope they recover.

  10. I objected as soon as I heard the news.. We all helped them to change their decision. Thanks!

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