I’m really glad to see Susan G. Komen for the Cure reversing its decision to deny funding to Planned Parenthood on the specious grounds that the organization is under investigation — by a politician scrounging for votes. Nancy Brinker and the Komen board said, among other things, in their statement announcing the reversal, that “It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women.”
I think that “how grants can most effectively and directly be administered” is an important phrase. I wrote yesterday that I thought the controversy had been valuable because it got the wheels turning on a conversation about whether Susan G. Komen for the Cure was the best place to give money if you want to fund research or treatment directly — especially if you don’t want to contribute to a pink-saturated culture of response to cancer. And I still think that’s an important conversation to be having. It would be great if Decemberists, or other celebrity Komen supporters who spoke up for Planned Parenthood — including Ellen Barkin, John Legend, Dana Delany, and Lance Armstrong — decide to continue that support in a public way even though Komen is now doing the right thing.
This could be a real turning point in the conversation that’s inaccurately portrayed Planned Parenthood as an abortion factory franchise and ignored the organization’s wide-ranging commitment to women’s health. Part of the reason that Komen’s withdrawal of funds from Planned Parenthood mattered so much is that it left a recurring funding hole in the organization’s budget that would have to be filled year after year. Unless Mayor Bloomberg or some other rich person was going to step up and fill that gap permanently, or Planned Parenthood was able to generate repeated outrage about the funding it’d lost, the organization could have been in trouble after an initial surge of protest support evaporated. This should be a moment when advocates of all types, particularly celebrities with credibility on women’s health and reproductive rights issues, work to build a bigger long-term base of donors for Planned Parenthood and all of its health programs, so the organization will be less dependent on grantmakers like Susan G. Komen for the Cure in the future.