What About Komen in Houston?

The Houston Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, as they style themselves, does not fund our local PP affiliate, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. I wondered if the local Komen group would try to distance themselves from the national’s decision, or even go so far as to express disagreement with it, as the Connecticut Komen affiliate did:

A Facebook message posted by the Connecticut Komen affiliate read, “We understand, and share, in the frustration around this situation. We hope that any investigation prohibiting Planned Parenthood from receiving Komen grants is promptly resolved.”

I surfed to the Houston Komen website, which does not have any current updates, but from there, visited their Facebook page, which published late this afternoon the following statement:

We are dismayed and extremely disappointed that actions we have taken to strengthen our granting process have been widely mischaracterized. It is necessary to set the record straight.

Starting in 2010, Komen began an initiative to help us do a better job of measuring the impact of community grants. This is important because we invest significant dollars in our local community programs–$93 million in 2011, which provided for 700,000 breast health screenings and diagnostic procedures.
Following this review, we made the decision to implement stronger performance criteria for our grantees to minimize duplication and free up dollars for direct services to help vulnerable women. To support this new granting strategy, Komen has also implemented more stringent eligibility standards to safeguard donor dollars. Consequently, some organizations are no longer eligible to receive Komen grants.

Some might argue that our standards are too exacting, but over the past three decades people have given us more than just their money. They have given us their trust and we take that responsibility very seriously.

We regret that these new policies have impacted some longstanding grantees, such as Planned Parenthood, but want to be absolutely clear that our grant-making decisions are not about politics. Throughout our 30 year history, our priority has always been and will continue to be the women we serve. As we move forward, we are working to ensure that there is no interruption or gaps in services for the women who need our support most in the fight against breast cancer.

-Susan G. Komen for the Cure®

Four people “liked” their statement. As of 8:25 pm this evening, however, only one of fourteen—that’s 7%—of the comments under their statement supported Komen’s position. The rest said things like:

  • Dislike and am unliking you for it, also my charity dollars will be spent elsewhere
  • I am not happy at all and will strongly be reconsidering my support to your organization. I understand guidelines and such but this is connected polotically [sic] on some level. I am not please at all. You are walking away from a huge group of women who need your services. I am extremely dissapointed.
  • I 2nd that Julie
  • I doubt, Komen Klub, that you have a strong enough public relations team to fix this major gaffe. You made your (pink) bed and now will have to live with your decision. And women will die. So very sad, but I’ll decline from donating to your organization.
  • As a long-time Susan G. Komen supporter, 2-time breast cancer survivor and a top 100 Houston SGK Fundraiser, I am extremely disappointed in your move to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. This support should be about helping ALL women, and not be based upon your new vice president’s well-publicized personal beliefs. Cancer is an equal opportunity offender and strikes women of all ethnic, religious, political and cultural backgrounds. Who will be next on your list to cut funding? I will no longer contribute to Susan G. Komen or participate in the Race for the Cure. There are many more organizations including Planned Parenthood to whom I can shift my money and support. Shame on you. And by the way — who on earth is your public relations counsel — you need to consider firing them. I am not buying your damage control messaging on community grants.
  • I applaud your decision! Thank you!
  • I would question whether these “new policies” were specifically structured to rationalize the removal of funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • I second Janice’s statement above [questioning whether these “new policies” …].
  • I’m very VERY disappointed in your organization’s decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. Shame on you. Unfortunately, I will be REDUCING my contributions to SGK. I am going to recommend to my friends that they also should reduce their contributions to SGK. Your organization has just shot itself in the foot. Congratulations.
  • Two questions: 1, What due diligence did you perform to understand whether there is evidence to support the allegations or whether the House committee’s “investigation” is politically motivated? 2, Do you plan to reinstate the grant if this investigation turns up no wrongdoing?
  • Excellent questions both – I will be withholding any future support until I read satisfactory answers
  • Agreed.
  • extremely disappointed in Komen’s actions. i say you have a public relations calamity on your hands and only an apology and reevaluation will come close to saving your organization from the damage you’ve reeked by the action you have a best prematurely taken by withdrawing your support of Planned Parenthood. i am withdrawing my support to Susan G. Komen because it no longer supports the good will and deeds i thought it valued. thank you for the good you used to perform for the many who could not afford screenings. i will be giving my money to Planned Parenthood. i am sure they will put it to good use.

Well, Komen Houston, I don’t appreciate your tone, and I don’t buy your smarmy statement.

When you mess with women’s fundamental right to bodily integrity, you better be prepared to deal with the consequences. This ain’t Planned Parenthood’s first rodeo, and Komen, it sure looks like you brought a pink knife to the gunfight.

State Representative Carol Alvarado, a lifelong Planned Parenthood supporter, made public the letter she sent to Komen founder Nancy Brinker. You can find it online many places, but I want to share it here because it rocks. As does Carol:

Dear Ambassador Brinker:

Sometimes friends disagree. Disappointment is the only word that comes to mind as I learn that the leadership of the Susan B. Komen Foundation has taken the remarkably anti-woman stance against funding lifesaving breast cancer screenings for low­income and underserved women who seek their well-woman care at Planned Parenthood centers across the nation.

This incredibly short­sided decision, based on what I can only imagine is the propaganda and  threats of extremist groups, ends an amazing partnership that over the last five years has resulted  in an incredible l70,000 breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals.

There is so much good that we can do if we all put our differences aside and work TOGETHER. Although you have now injected yourself into the political theater, I hope that you will reconsider your decision and work to mend this now torn relationship that used to be about preventing and protecting women from breast cancer.

With great disappointment,

Carol Alvarado
Texas State Representative

This is one of those things that has me wrapped around the axle. I’d like to walk away, but I can’t. As a woman who has the audacity to believe that I have the right to determine, without intervention by the state, whether or when to bear children, I am sick and tired of the constant assaults on my bodily integrity. I am sick and tired of people playing politics with women’s lives, and I’m disgusted that Komen managed to turn years of goodwill into a fight between the uterus and the breast. Women are more than the sum of our reproductive and sexual organs!!!

This entry was posted in feminists & feminism, Houston, pro-choice activism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to What About Komen in Houston?

  1. Brittanie says:

    You know how serious I am about running. I have never been a fan of Komen, long before this bullshit. I have never and will never purchase their products. I have never and will never run a Komen race. And thanks to you, I know better than to donate my money to pass-through organizations. But Komen has always left a bad taste in my mouth.

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