Susan G. Komen's Apolitical Pink Turns Red

Friday, February 10, 2012

By now everyone knows about the money the Susan G. Komen for the Cure gives to Planned Parenthood. But who funds Komen? The roster includes Denver Broncos' Tim Tebow, a star in the anti-choice political field, and Donald Trump.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Nancy G. Brinker may have reversed her decision to cut Susan G. Komen for the Cure's funding to Planned Parenthood, but she can't reverse what the event exposed: close ties to the GOP agenda of eliminating women's access to contraceptives and abortion.

A sneak preview of that came in January at a star-studded gala in Palm Beach, Fla., that showed both Brinker's GOP stature and close ties to the forces arrayed against women's health. One of the donors was Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos' superstar quarterback. He donated an autographed helmet and jersey to the silent auction.

Tebow became an overnight hero of evangelical anti-choice during Superbowl 2010 when he appeared in a TV ad with his mother, who resisted having an abortion when she was pregnant with him. The voiceover encouraged viewers to visit, a top anti-choice movement organization.

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Donald Trump, GOP presidential wannabe, reportedly placed the winning, $12,000 bid for the Tebow paraphernalia at the event attended by Florida's Gov. Rick Scott and his wife, Ann Scott.

Brinker is a Republican of long standing.

She served as an ambassador to Hungary during the George W. Bush administration and traveled to the Middle East with Karen Hughes, Bush's best friend at the time. Brinker was the one who hired Karen Handel, as the charity's vice president for public policy, until she quit Tuesday. Handel ran for governor of Georgia last year and was openly anti-choice.

Brinker founded the charity in 1982 after her sister, dying of breast cancer, asked her to find a cure for the disease that was responsible for her death. Thirty years later, her Pink Ribbons are the national and international symbols of "awareness" of breast cancer.

The apolitical purity of all that pink may now be permanently stained.

Permanently Stained

The Atlantic posted news on its website Jan. 31 that Komen was stopping its annual grants to the Planned Parenthood Federation of American.

Within four days, Komen's board reversed the decision and Handel became the designated sacrificial lamb.

In the interim, Planned Parenthood raised lots of money, gathered piles of good publicity and tons of new donors.

Komen got blasted via Facebook, Twitter and news organizations. It lost face, donors and the support of many of its staff and volunteers.

One experienced Dallas public relations professional told me that Komen, based in Dallas, will not be able to recover from the uproar. Komen went overnight from being seen as a hero for many women to becoming the evil empire of women's health.

An unpublished research study finds that of all the philanthropic dollars that go to aid U.S. women, 58 percent goes toward health and 38 percent of that portion goes to breast cancer.

Health charities' federal filings can detail how well that money is being spent. A comparison of this 2009 data for Komen and Planned Parenthood shows the latter group spends a far greater proportion of its donations--72 percent--on the women it's supposed to serve.

Komen, by contrast, spends only 55 percent on its programs.

To express those figures in another way, Planned Parenthood spends 28 percent of its donations on itself while Komen eats up 45 percent.

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