A Nonprofit’s PR Fiasco

A few weeks ago, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a nonprofit organization that helps fund charities aimed at curing breast cancer, made a huge booboo. They cut funding from Planned Parenthood. That’s over $500,000 worth of grants that the womens’ rights organization desperately needs, and it was taken from them for some fishy reasons.

Now, on paper, their excuse sounded fairly plausible. They claimed that their organization does not permit allocations of funds to organizations that are being investigated by Congress. That sounds like a pretty fair rule, but curiously, it was put into place only recently, and for some mysterious reason, the rule was worded in such a way that the only organization currently affected is Planned Parenthood. So why this sudden upsurge of conflict between two organizations who, for the past few years, have worked hand-in-hand?

First of all, one of Komen’s new higher-ups in public policy, Karen Handel, has been on the attack against PP for the better part of a decade. She calls herself an “evangelical” Christian (oh, boy!) and has publicly stated on multiple occasions that she does not support Planned Parenthood, or their “mission.” The way she says it, you’d think Planned Parenthood had a secret police force running around giving women abortions against their will. Spoiler alert: they don’t.

But that’s what this whole big fuss is about, and we can’t really tip-toe around it. So let’s get a few things straight: 1) I’m pro-life, and 2) I support Planned Parenthood. The organization provides advice, healthcare, counseling and birth control methods for women who desperately need it. In fact, for some low-income women, Planned Parenthood is the only organization that can provide breast exams to detect cancer, which makes it all the more peculiar that Komen would even think about blackballing them like this. All over a moral issue that only accounts for 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s overall funding. That’s nothing, and Komen knows it. There’s a stigma associated with Planned Parenthood, and the current investigation by Congress is just another result of it.

Abortion is a complicated issue.

Ignoring religious affiliation (or lack thereof), there are some basic moral and biological questions that are still heatedly debated about today. And because our Congressmen and women can’t behave like grownups and debate about it properly, with the support of their constituents, a series of fallacious arguments and ad hominem attacks are indulged in on a weekly basis. Several Republican Congress members, probably in order to deflect public attention away from serious issues, spearheaded a movement to investigate Planned Parenthood and see if any government funding was being used to fund abortions, which is illegal. Which I sort of understand, seeing as how moral qualms are not (exactly) the concern of the government.

But the government only funds Planned Parenthood for 33 percent of their budget, and since only 3 percent of their overall budget goes to abortions, how on earth can Congress justify this investigation?

Well, the response has been enormous.

While most Americans have been content to let Congress waffle over the pro-life, pro-choice issue, and even instigate these new federal investigations against PP, they will not stand for the private, nonprofit organization, Komen, to deny Planned Parenthood funds for the necessary services it provides. All over the Internet, memes and “yourecards” were generated specifically to poke fun and defame the supposed “For the Cure” group. People all over the nation threatened to boycott the group and stop buying their silly pink wristbands, and 26 U.S. senators showed their disgust in writing.

Basically, the people at Susan G. Komen got their asses handed to them, tried to make some excuses, and eventually realized that they couldn’t handle the heat, so they got out of the kitchen. They claimed that the rule was intended for “criminal” investigations, and that Komen would consider funding Planned Parenthood with the next round of grants. So, not an apology or a repentance, and definitely not a promise to hand over the $500 G’s, just some backpedaling.  If I were in charge of Komen, I’d seriously reconsider my actions, because as a consumer, I haven’t seen anything with the pink “For the Cure” logo on it since this whole fiasco. The boycott is in full effect, and Komen is the only one who’s going to get screwed.

After all, this whole kerfuffle only managed to allow Planned Parenthood to privately raise almost a million dollars, more than the grants were even worth .


Ryan Cady is a second-year psychology major. He can be reached at rcady@uci.edu.