The Susan G. Komen Foundation caved to the social media firestorm (and today’s New York Times lede story) that it triggered with Tuesday’s bombshell announcement about cutting $680K in annual funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Restoring funding to PPFA is the right thing to do. There is, however, plenty of humble pie for all to eat at Komen’s Dallas headquarters. Enjoy!
Foundation CEO Nancy Brinker and the board’s joint statement is hardly an elegant one. In fact, it’s tone-deaf to PR. “The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen,” it reads. The reality: nobody cares about your tender feelings. People were outraged by the Foundation’s move to strip money from PPFA that provided 170K breast cancer exams and more than 6,400 mammogram referrals to needy women over the past five years. What callousness!
The Foundation’s position that PPFA wasn’t the target of the recent rule change to stop funding for organizations under investigation doesn’t hold water. PPFA has and remains a prime target of Congressional anti-abortion proponents. That’s an unfortunate fact. Current grand inquisitor Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida is going after the group because he says America just can’t afford the $360M in federal funding because the country faces a $15T budget deficit. Cmon, Cliff. That number represents .000024 of the deficit. That flimsy witch hunt is the pretext for the Foundation cutting PPFA funds.
Komen’s apology undermines Brinker’s original statement that the move to cut PPFA wasn’t political. It now has revamped the rule that “disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”
After the self-induced PR disaster, the breast cancer organization wants everybody to “pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women.” It should have done that in the first place.
Rather than dishing out the self-serving apology, Komen should have just said, “Sorry. We made a mistake in cutting funding to Planned Parenthood. It won’t happen again. Thank you for your support.”