By the Book: Komen Foundation made a stand on a seesaw
by Anthony Cook
Feb 11, 2012 | 1212 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.”
— 1 Peter 3:17

In recent days, it’s been nearly impossible to get through any of the 24-hour news station programs without at least a mention of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.

Komen’s mission is to end breast cancer, and it raises money to help fund breast cancer research.

Founder and CEO Nancy Brinker lost her sister to breast cancer and, in 1982, started the foundation, which is named for her sister.

As part of Komen’s mission, the foundation donates money to organizations that provide health care to women. One such organization is Planned Parenthood, which offers breast cancer screenings, birth control and other services to indigent and uninsured patients. Planned Parenthood is also the nation’s largest provider of abortions.

Last week, Komen set off a firestorm when it announced that it would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, based on a new policy not to fund any agency under investigation. (Planned Parenthood is being investigated by a congressman who wants to determine whether any federal funding goes to providing abortions.)

Komen’s announcement created a public relations nightmare. Critics accused the foundation of abandoning its mission against breast cancer and bowing to political pressure from the religious right to make a stand against abortion.

Komen this week reversed its decision, and Karen Handel, the foundation’s senior vice president for policy (thought to be the catalyst for the decision to defund Planned Parenthood), resigned on Tuesday.

While the stated reason for defunding Planned Parenthood involved a policy change, it’s no secret that Handel is an unapologetic pro-lifer who has said publicly that she does not support abortion or Planned Parenthood.

But if Komen has a problem with funding an organization that provides abortions, why not say so?

Instead of pretending the issue was a matter of a policy change, Komen should have stated its issues clearly.

Planned Parenthood supporters point out that abortions make up only 3 percent of the services it provides. But, if the Komen foundation opposes abortion on the grounds of valuing life, then the percentage of abortions performed makes no difference. One is too many.

But the problem for Komen isn’t its principles. The problem is Komen’s lack of willingness to stand on those principles.

If Komen believes opposing abortion is the right thing to do, then say so.

If Komen believes pulling funding from Planned Parenthood is the right thing to do, then do so.

When backhanded moves are made like Komen’s wishy-washy funding seesaw, then explanations become muddied, the issue becomes political and any position becomes difficult to defend.

It seems Komen assumed there would be no blowback from Planned Parenthood supporters, or that any blowback would be overwhelmed by support from the religious right — two terrible assumptions.

Truth is, despite all the noise it makes, the religious right in this country is still very much a minority, and it’s a minority that’s more political than principled.

Now that Komen has reversed its position and says it will fund Planned Parenthood, many who back Planned Parenthood say they’ll no longer donate to Komen because they’re unsure where the foundation stands.

Others who oppose abortion and oppose Planned Parenthood are saying through social media that they’ll no longer donate to Komen because they don’t want their dollars to possibly fund abortion providers.

Truth is, in a situation like this, you’re going to get skewered no matter what — from both sides.

That’s why you don’t make such a decision counting on weak opposition or strong support.

You don’t do the right thing because it’s popular.

You do the right thing because it’s right.

‘By the Book’

Anthony Cook, managing editor of the Anniston Star, has published a collection of his columns on faith, along with sermon notes and speeches. ‘By the Book’ (WestBow Press, 418 pages, $30.95) is available at LifeWay Christian store at Oxford Exchange, or online at or
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