On Planned Parenthood and Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Planned Parenthood (PP) and Susan G. Komen for the Cure (SGK) were in the news last week after the media broke the fact that SGK had stopped donating to PP because SGK had recently adopted a new rule not to fund any organization under government investigation (Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns started an inquiry to determine whether PP had used government money to fund abortions, which PP is forbidden to do). Leftists quickly denounced and attacked SGK on a variety of grounds to the point that SGK has seemingly changed its decision and is again donating to PP. The rationale (to use the term lightly) used by leftists to attack SGK’s initial decision has been invariably ill informed and/or completely illogical. Leftists’ objection to SGK’s initial decision has been the claim that, without SGK’s donations to PP (SGK donated $680,000 SGK to PP in 2011), millions of poor women will be unable to afford and obtain breast cancer prevention and treatment services from PP and, as a result, many will die from breast cancer. This claim is absurd on multiple grounds.
The first problem with this claim is that it assumes PP is the only organization that can provide such services to poor women. There is nothing special about PP that makes it the only organization able to provide these services, an obvious fact since SGK donates to other organizations. Furthermore, PP often just provides referrals for mammograms and breast cancer related treatment rather than providing the actual service: Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of SGK, made this point after SGK came under fire for withdrawing grants to PP:
It was nothing they were doing wrong. We have decided not to fund, wherever possible, pass-through grants. We were giving them money; they were sending women out for mammograms. What we would like to have are clinics where we can directly fund mammograms.
If all PP is doing is providing referrals it makes much more sense for SGK to just fund the organizations actually providing breast cancer prevention and treatment services (and referrals by PP don’t cost any money, so in those cases PP would be able to use SGK funds for their other costs…such as abortion costs). And those leftists who support PP (either for their abortion or breast cancer related services, or both) might as well donate directly to PP, which many PP supporters did after learning that SGK had stopped funding PP.
The second problem with the claim that SGK’s initial decision to stop donating to PP would prevent poor women from obtaining breast cancer prevention and treatment services is that SGK’s donations have been a miniscule portion (0.07%) of PP’s budget anyway (Eternity Matters has a great pie chart illustrating this). Leftists’ hysterical wailing that millions of poor women were going to die because PP would not be able to provide breast cancer screening without SGK’s donations is ridiculously overblown. If SGK’s $680k in donations to PP is so critical to health care for poor women then leftists should demand that PP’s executives take a pay cut (many PP executives are paid more than $250k and PP President Cecile Richards is paid nearly $400k). That would leave more SGK money for breast cancer prevention and treatment (whether donated to PP or to another organization) and would lower “income inequality”! Doubleplusgood!
The reason SGK’s decisions regarding donations to PP have been so controversial is that PP is at the center of the abortion debate. Leftists claim that donations to PP from SGK and the government do not fund abortions, but they overlook the fact that money is fungible. SGK donations to PP that fund breast cancer related services cover (part of) the cost of performing those services and in doing so allow PP to use their other funds (e.g. money obtained from direct donations to PP) on abortions. PP claims only 3% of their services are abortions (a dubious claim on closer reflection — H/T Eternity Matters), but because of the fungible nature of money SGK donations indirectly fund PP provided abortions as long as any abortions are performed by PP. It also means that PP’s claim to not have used money from the government for abortions is meaningless — any government money used on PP’s other services frees up more PP money for abortions and thus indirectly funds abortions.
SGK’s decisions have ultimately been a fiasco. After its initial decision to stop donating to PP leftists donated millions directly to PP, and much of that money will no doubt be used to fund abortions. At the same time, many who oppose abortion donated to SGK in support of their decision to stop donating to PP…but now that SGK seems to have reversed its decision some of that money may be donated to PP and thus can be used to (indirectly) fund abortions. The only good things about this fiasco is that (1) SGK should see reduced donations from abortion opponents who now know about its connection to PP and (2) the tarnishing of the SGK brand and pink ribbons may alleviate the nauseating onslaught of pink every October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month — as if anyone these days is unaware of breast cancer). However, this is little consolation for all the PP abortions that have been funded — directly or indirectly — as a result of SGK’s decisions.
One final note: lest I be attacked for “not caring about women” or something similarly ridiculous (leftists have a bad habit of impugning the motives of their political opponents), I should mention that I have experienced the problem of breast cancer in my own family — my mother is a breast cancer survivor.