by Max Brantley
The statement isn't quite that direct and leaves some wiggle room, seems to me. The days ahead will tell, but Komen is clearly trying to put out the fire. A statement from Nancy Brinker, the founder and board chair said, in part:
We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives.
The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.
The fallout has been enormous for Komen. The anti-choice political movement was clearly wrapped up in the decision, despite Brinker's protests, particularly as news came of impact that movement on other Komen foundation spending, such as a halt to support of stem cell research. Board member John Raffaelli, a Washington lobbyist and Texarkana native, had told the press flatly that the end of Planned Parenthood money was tied to anti-choice sentiment and feared impact on Komen from anti-choice motivated investigations in Congress against Planned Parenthood.
A number of affiliates, including the one in Arkansas, had distanced themselves from the decision and top officials had resigned.
The cat, however, is out of the bag, regardless of the reversal. There now will be fresh and deserved examination of political factors in all spending decisions by Komen; of corporate influence and marketing; of the percent of money raised that actually goes to breast cancer examinations, treatment and cures.
The anti-choice contingent in the U.S. is strong and organized. But it lives in a soundproof room. It hears only itself. The takeover of Komen by anti-choice adherents and their action here demonstrated how they underestimate the degree to which American women favor ready access to birth control, comprehensive health care and family planning and even — though under a variety of circumstances and often with restrictive regulations — abortion rights.
You might like to peruse the national Komen Foundation's federal tax return for 2010 for the Dallas headquarters organization, which shows about $74 million spent in grants and assistance to programs and organizations carrying out the mission — or roughly 41 percent of the year's $177 million in expenses, including $18 million in salaries, $18 million in marketing expenses, $11 million in office expenses, $8 million in technology expenses, $2 million travel expenses, $2 million for conferences, $18 million for consulting expenses, $2 million on race production and $7 million in "other" expenses. (Better Business Bureau says a charity should spend about 65 percent or more of its income on services.) UPDATE: However, a separate foundation that reports the fund-raising of local affiliates, which produce significant sums from the Race for the Cure with lower overhead, affects the overall performance of the organization in a favorable way and puts total effort beyond BBB suggested guidelines.)
Comments follow from the Arkansas affiliate of Komen and from Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which serves Arkansas:
ARKANSAS KOMEN AFFILIATE
The Arkansas Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure made a statement on Wednesday of this week asking our National organization to reverse its decision to stop grant funding for any organization that is under governmental investigation, including Planned Parenthood. At that time, we said, and we maintain today, decisions of this nature should be made only after the investigation is complete.
Our National organization agreed with us and stated that in a release this morning, "We will amend the criteria (for grants funded by the organization) to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political." We are feeling a sense of relief that this controversy may finally be concluding and the Arkansas affiliate can again turn our attention to our most important mission - providing breast health to the women of our state.
In our statement we asked that both sides of this issue look at our body of good works. Komen is a bipartisan organization and wishes to remain so. We do not support any particular organization. We have many partners in this quest for a cure and to save lives through education, research, screening, and treatment.
During this week, the Arkansas affiliate has heard and has listened to your comments about this issue. We will continue to listen to our community of volunteers, donors and supporters regarding any issues. However, while we have these discussions, we will make certain to put the breast health of the women of Arkansas first.
We thank you for your support and we ask that you continue to help us fight for a cure for this dreaded disease. We value you and we thank you for entrusting us to use the resources you give us to provide breast care for people of Arkansas and to help fund research, which will someday contribute to finding a cure.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF THE HEARTLAND
The outpouring of support for Planned Parenthood from our friends, donors, supporters and patients in the last few days has been astonishing. Millions of men and women across the country have joined a national conversation about the importance of lifesaving breast care for all. The compassion and support we have witnessed both locally and nationally is a testament to the important services provided by Planned Parenthood in our communities.
The unified outcry in support of those most in need rose above political, ideological and cultural divides, and will be recognized as a defining moment during a contentious political time. Planned Parenthood thanks every person who contributed to elevating the importance of breast cancer screenings for all women.
Our partnership with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has been challenged, but we are overjoyed that we can now continue our work together to help the women who rely on us for lifesaving cancer prevention care. We share the same commitment to providing breast health for the most underserved women. We are enormously grateful that the Komen Foundation has clarified its grant-making criteria and we can continue our partnerships with our local leaders, supporters, volunteers, advocates and friends.
The past few days have demonstrated the steadfast determination we all share in the fight against cancer. Over the past year, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland provided more than 23,000 breast exams to women in need. With a restored partnership with the Komen Foundation and the outpouring of support of the past week, we will be able to support more women in need, providing more lifesaving breast health services to the women in our community.