ntil this week, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation was a widely admired, largely apolitical breast-cancer charity, best known for its pink ribbons and charity races. Then it pulled the plug on most of its breast-screening grants to Planned Parenthood, and all hell broke loose. Komen says that it had to cancel the grants because new Komen rules prevent the charity from giving money to organizations under government investigation. (A congressional Republican is investigating Planned Parenthood.) But The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg reports that the decision was all about abortion, and Komen board member John Raffaelli tells The New York Times that supporting the nation's largest abortion provider was hurting Komen's credibility with donors. Planned Parenthood quickly replaced the $700,000 in lost Komen funds, thanks to outraged donors — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $250,000 — and high-ranking Komen officials have resigned in protest. In the long run, how badly will this controversy hurt Komen?
Komen won't live this down: "Komen's brand is imploding," and they deserve it, says Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel. By picking anti-abortion zealots over poor women who need mammograms, Komen has seriously alienated young women and progressive supporters who'd been "drawn to the cause expressly because of their non-political approach to a non-political disease." Komen is no longer a "viable charity," and "the only thing it's curing right now is people's desire to raise any more money for them."
"Meet the Komen exec behind the Planned Parenthood defunding"
Actually, Komen will be just fine: Let's say Komen did defund Planned Parenthood over abortion, says Tina Korbe at Hot Air. "So what?" That doesn't "lessen the nobility of Komen's mission." Quite the opposite. Komen gained "credibility as an organization exclusively dedicated to the eradication of breast cancer," without any "notorious" side issues. You can "advocate for 'women's health' without advocating for 'abortion rights.'"
"Komen official resigns over decision to cut Planned Parenthood funding"
Komen will survive — but this will sting: Abortion is an issue over which reasonable people strongly disagree, says Megan McArdle at The Atlantic. It's no wonder Komen wants no part of it. But instead of quietly letting the grants just run out, Komen sent an "extremely explicit" anti-abortion message by defunding Planned Parenthood, and that's what's "probably going to cost them significant public support." Too bad, because everyone wants to eradicate breast cancer, and that effort is the big loser in this divisive imbroglio.
"Why did Susan G. Komen pull the plug on Planned Parenthood?"
Editor's note: Since this story was published, Komen has reversed course, releasing a statement that apologizes to "the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives." Komen will amend its rules so it can continue funding Planned Parenthood. "That is what is right and fair," the statement says.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- How Ukraine can fend off the Russians, in 7 simple steps
- How to be more satisfied with your life, according to science
- These stunning travel photos remind us that we're all just amateurs with iPhones
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?
Subscribe to the Week