It’s too late to build a National Public Relations Hall of Shame Museum. Unless you build one with a special wing for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Then the folks at Coca Cola who came up with “New Coke” won’t have to give up permanent display status in the main exhibit area.

Not only did the ladies at Komen step off a cliff when announcing an end of financial support for Planned Parenthood, they sharpened the rocks at the end of the fall in denying the too-obvious truth behind their effort when reinstating P.P. It was political. It was done with malice aforethought. It was deliberate. And it was WRONG.

Like a pink Wile E. Coyote, Komen made a run at the wrong bird. Within 48 hours, P.P. not only exceeded fourfold in donations and pledges what it would have lost in Komen annual grant money for a single year, it picked up 10,000 new Facebook supporters. People who – like me – probably hadn’t previously given Planned Parenthood much of a personal thought. But, suddenly, they were there with offers of their time and their money.

If the idea behind Komen’s action was to deliberately cripple P.P. – and the evidence says to me it was – it had just the opposite effect. At our house – and apparently at a lot of houses – we’re going to take more seriously and more personally the continued attacks on P.P. by small-minded and decidedly ignorant politicians and others that’ve popped up everywhere.

One of the recent hires at Komen has been Karen Hendel, the new VP for public policy. If you live outside of Georgia, the name probably means nothing. You probably weren’t aware that she lost her Republican run for governor. Or that one of her major campaign points was getting rid of Planned Parenthood because Hendel thinks of herself as an “outspoken voice” – little redundancy there – for ending abortions. Which would seem to make her an odd hire for Komen. Not that she’s not entitled to her personal views. She certainly is. But Komen – at least I thought – was apolitical and neutral on abortion and other public issues. Apparently I was wrong. And so were millions of others.

So, Hendel makes her appearance in the Komen hierarchy several months ago and Komen suddenly turns its back on P.P. because P.P. is being “investigated by a congressional committee.” In December, Komen circulated a memo to all affiliates making sure they knew of the “investigation.” A memo from Hendel.

Now, throw in another fact. That House Committee is chaired by a Florida Republican fella who’s been after P.P. for years because of his own anti-abortion views. Komen conveniently cites the committee “investigation” to deny the funding but, 48 hours later, says it had nothing to do with reinstatement. Yeah. Right.

Over the last five years, P.P. received $680,000 from Komen. With just that money, P.P. health centers performed more than 4-million breast exams in the same period. No abortions. Breasts exams. Mostly in rural communities – the places where P.P. is most effective and most needed.

Planned Parenthood’s main mission – as the name implies – is family planning. Not securing abortions. Issues of abortion make up a small part of the larger P.P. role in women’s health. But that small part has become the outsized focus of zealots who see P.P. as a “danger to democracy.”

Komen caught itself in another lie when announcing Planned Parenthood grant applications would be accepted in the future. Komen said it is writing “new (grant) criteria to ensure that disqualifying investigations must be ‘criminal and conclusive’ in nature.”

So, dropping P.P. was because of the congressional “investigation” but Komen policy regarding applicants being “investigated” for something will be rewritten. Not connected to the P.P matter. Yeah. Right.

There is no question the Komen Foundation has severely injured itself. Once by taking an action driven by small-minded people. Again when trying to get itself out of a bad situation. There were either lies going in or lies coming out. Or both. My guess is a lot of people who have previously participated in Komen find-raising activities will not in the future. That will mean fewer dollars to help vital women’s health programs like P.P.

But, I’d also guess – based on public response during those 48 hours – Planned Parenthood may need less outside support from Komen down the road.

And one other bit of speculation here. Those grandstanding politicians who believe they’ve been making big points at home with their constant criticism of P.P. may want to rethink the situation. Especially the ones who represent rural districts.

Few of them could raise $3 million and 10,000 “friends” in 48 hours.

Comments are closed.