I only use one email address and it gets inundated daily with requests for money and support from a wide assortment of groups that fight poverty, advocate for quality health care, and promote political causes. Sometimes I send a few dollars, or sign a petition, or regurgitate information about the cause into my Twitter account (@PaRock) or onto the pages of this blog. If I get really fired up, as I am today, I am likely to do all of the above.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation raises money to fight breast cancer through research, education, and political lobbying. One of their primary ways of raising money has been through their famous "walks" for the cure - big pink affairs sometimes lasting for multiple days in which those participating gather pledges and then walk to earn the donations.
(I participated in one of these walks in downtown Phoenix in the fall of 2007 with my daughter, Molly. It was fun - and a very moving experience as we strolled and chatted with many marchers who were carrying signs and wearing homemade tee-shirts honoring relatives or friends who had suffered through the awful experience of breast cancer - some successfully, others not so lucky. It was a good bonding experience for Molly and me.)
But I won't be walking with Susan G. Komen any more because the old bitty has turned mean and hateful.
The most venerable Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has bowed to right-wing pressure and cut off funding to Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screening program - an absolutely essential program that provides women of low and modest incomes with a life-saving medical procedure. That deserves repeating: Susan G. Komen, a charity whose sole purpose is the defeat of breast cancer, has suddenly quit funding a program that offers breast cancer screenings to women of modest means!
What's up with that, Sue? Are the poor not worthy of a cure?
The political back story is that the various conservative movements in America have targeted Planned Parenthood for elimination through starvation, and they have been busy trying to stop government funding of the organization at all levels. Now these extremists have extended their tentacles and focus into charities that have been helping Planned Parenthood survive and fulfill its mission to women.
The political "logic" for the elimination of funding to Planned Parenthood is this: A Florida congressman has started an inquiry in Congress to determine if Planned Parenthood is using public funds for abortions. It is currently against the law to do so, and the "inquiry" is basically just a smear to keep the knuckle-draggers and mouth-breathers who fund American's conservative politicians and movements stirred up. Suddenly though, the Komen board instituted a policy stating that the group will not donate to any organization that is being investigated by Congress.
Nicely done, Sue!
The Komen organization has been quietly tacking right. Last year the group hired Karen Handel, a former Georgia Secretary of State and unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor, to be its vice president for public policy. Handel is vocally anti-choice, and during her failed gubernatorial campaign she vowed to eliminate any state funding to Planned Parenthood. Jane Abraham, the General Chairman of the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, is a member of the Komen governing board - the group that ultimately made the decision to end research funding to Planned Parenthood.
Oh, and the Komen organization, a group whose sole purpose is the elimination of breast cancer, has also stopped all funding for stem-cell research - a move that shows it is much more interested in kissing conservative butt than it is in actually finding a cure for breast cancer.
Shameless, Sue, absolutely and utterly shameless!
So today I will send some money to Planned Parenthood, sign an on-line protest petition to Susan G. Komen, put up a couple of tweets, publish this post, and bask in the warmth of righteous anger for a brief while. But soon it will all start to subside and the emails from Planned Parenthood will again begin to resemble the entreaties from so many other organizations. And when that happens the people of our country, particularly the women of our country, will be the poorer for it.
There are alternatives to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. May I recommend: the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Army of Women, and Breast Cancer Action. The cause is too important to be held captive by extremists!