On the SGK/PP Split


First, take a deep breath, then promise to stick with me to the end.

I am disappointed in the outrage which has been expressed by the Internet community at large on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure (SGK, for short) decision to withdraw its support for Planned Parenthood (PP). The outrage seems to be based on a misunderstanding of the facts. The only praise for the decision arises from conservatives who view it as a blow to abortion. But both sides of the debate are missing what could be (could be) a benefit to women’s health, the very cause at the center of the argument.

Two days ago, SGK followed its own relatively new policy of withdrawing funding for organizations which are under congressional investigation, which PP is. The policy, in and of itself, makes sense. There’s no reason why a private, non-profit organization can’t decide to withdraw funding from something which has been accused—rightly or wrongly—of misconduct. SGK has decided its in its best interests to withdraw support of organizations which might stink.

So, does PP stink? It doesn’t matter. SGK is following its own policies, as it should.

Was it politically motivated? SGK says “No.” Before you go dragging out words like “failed gubernatorial campaign,” remember that SGK supports cancer research, not the abortion and reproductive health businesses. So whether it’s politically motivated or not, it’s certainly in their right to drop funding for an organization which spent SGK’s money on services other than early cancer detection.

Is this a change in SGK’s core values? No. SGK’s mission statement reads as follows:

Promise: The Susan G. Komen for the Cure promise: to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality of care for all and energizing science to find the cures.

You’ll note that it does not say:

Promise: The Susan G. Komen for the Cure promise: to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality of care for all and energizing science to find the cures by funding Planned Parenthood.

So you can—and should—continue to support SGK if you wish to fund the continued fight against breast cancer.

And you should drop the outrage. Because I think there’s a potential benefit which is being overlooked—if SGK lives up to its promise of “ensuring quality of care for all,” that is.

PP has already said that the SGK funds are already well on their way towards being replaced—$400K or the $648K in less than 24 hours isn’t a bad fundraising record. They have also said that the services funded by that $648K will still be available, regardless.

So far, the PP patient population is covered. If SGK “ensur[es] quality of care for all,” then there’s a potential benefit—an upside!

If SGK lives up to its promise, it will put that $648K towards cancer prevention. That’s what you should be talking to SGK about. Not about defunding PP. Not about abortion. Not about political motivations. What you should be voicing is what to do with the money instead, insisting that it go where it should go: to the ground, where feet meet the street.

In the best-case scenario, SGK would arrange for vouchers for breast cancer screenings equivalent to what PP is providing to be distributed to clinics in the cities where the defunded PP offices are—preferably at clinics very near the PP offices. Put all $648K to work here. Since PP is already covering the people who would go to PP for help, that’s an awful lot of additional women who have access to care—and may be another segment of the population which would go to a clinic but wouldn’t set foot in a PP office.

In the “worst case,” SGK will dedicate the money to research or similar (not a bad thing, but not in keeping with the original mission of that $648K). In the worst case, nobody loses. In the best case, more women have access to breast cancer screenings.

Furthermore, if we assume that it was only some percentage of the SGK donation to PP which was going to breast cancer screenings in the first place, then SGK is actually focusing more on its core values. More of its money will be going towards breast cancer research or early detection and not to other PP services. (Again, the other PP services are not part of SGK’s core mission.) In the end, it’s a better use of SGK money, which you probably helped raise and wanted to see go towards fighting breast cancer in the first place.

So… if not now, then when should you be outraged?

— When SGK doesn’t restore funding to PP if/when PP is ever found not guilty of misconduct, provided SGK wants to use its funds in that manner.

— When SGK doesn’t put the funds into the hands of the people who need it most by funding screenings directly.

Then I’d expect to see this kind of outrage again.

But, until then, cool your jets. Please.

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