A Tip of the Hat to Planned Parenthood

You have to give the devil his due. What Planned Parenthood did this past week to Susan G. Komen for the Cure was nothing short of breathtaking. In the span of only a few days, Planned Parenthood showed Komen founder and CEO Nancy G. Brinker that her life’s work in finding a cure for breast cancer could be destroyed.

Planned Parenthood knew in December that new Komen grant-making regulations would exclude Planned Parenthood from getting any further grants for two very good reasons. First, because Planned Parenthood is under legislative and criminal investigations at the federal, state, and local levels. Second, because Komen only wants to grant money it can track to actual results. It is well known that Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms; it farms them out to numerous third parties.

What Brinker could not say is that her group wanted out of the culture wars. They wanted to become abortion neutral. Senior Komen officials had spent an inordinate amount of their time dealing with the complaints of pro-lifers and, most especially, Catholic bishops who believe quite rightly that the Komen Foundation should not fund the nations largest abortion business.

In December, the chief grant maker at Komen resigned, although this was not revealed until last week. It also came out last week that there were deep divisions within the Komen Foundation about defunding Planned Parenthood, which would have gone from getting nineteen annual grants to five this year and none next year.

From December onward, all was quiet. Komen officials hoped, and likely prayed, that Planned Parenthood would not go nuclear on them, as they had done in similar situations. No such luck.

Last Monday an AP reporter started calling around town for quotes about what he had just heard was the defunding of Planned Parenthood by the Komen Foundation. How did he find out? Komen didn’t tell him. Most certainly he found out from his friends at Planned Parenthood. His story was the first strike in what became a media, governmental, and financial tsunami that threatened the very life of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Within hours Capital Hill erupted with condemnations of the Komen Foundation for making what abortion partisans said was a calculation not based on women’s health but on pro-life and Republican politics. The Komen Foundation was not helped by the professional incompetence of their spokesman Leslie Aun, who only talked about the Congressional investigation. That fed perfectly into the Planned Parenthood narrative that this was just partisan politics in a political year.

Within a day, major Komen affiliates were complaining to the press. Some threatened revolt, saying they would fund Planned Parenthood no matter what the national board wanted. It has not been reported that some affiliates threatened to leave the Komen family altogether. Many, if not most, of the affiliates are separately incorporated non-profits and could have done just that. Nancy Brinker has less control over Komen affiliates than the pope has over troublesome bishops.

     Amb. Nancy G. Brinker  –  on the defensive

At the very same time, major corporations began threatening to cut Komen grants. Komen’s Facebook page was inundated with hateful messages. At least one city council said Komen might not get permits for events. The American Association of University Women said none of its 600 summer interns could work at Komen.

In the midst of this maelstrom, Nancy Brinker issued a very strong video statement in which she fought back against the malicious campaign against her foundation. If you watch this video and watch her eyes, you can see a women who is absolutely furious.

Then she went on the Andrea Mitchell show on MSNBC. It was a disaster. You can understand why she went there instead of the Fox programs. The MSNBC crowd are her friends and natural allies. Andrea Mitchell was a personal friend and collaborator. But Brinker’s good friend Andrea proceeded to slice and dice her as if she were no better than an abortion clinic bomber.

In the end, Susan G. Komen for the Cure was not prepared for the nuclear attack unleashed upon it. It hadn’t had a communications director for months, and the one it used to have has gone to the press and attacked it. It is a foundation dedicated to funding cancer research and not a political operation. Planned Parenthood is a billion dollar a year political machine that is in the business of killing babies and destroying political opposition.

In the end, Nancy Brinker faced the real possibility that affiliates would leave, personnel would quit, the funding base could be decimated, and the story would have lingered for weeks in the national media. She had little choice but to staunch the wound.

Last Friday morning, she announced what sounded like a reversal. If you read it closely, however, her statement shows little change from the stated policy. Planned Parenthood will get more funding, but that was always the case since five more grants are coming this year. Planned Parenthood is eligible to apply again. This was always the case if they could deal with the new regulations. It could end up being a brilliant document that froze the situation, gave Komen breathing room to eventually do what it wants to do.

Planned Parenthood ran a remarkable campaign. Experienced pro-lifers say they have never seen anything like it. Clearly, Planned Parenthood and its allies, even within the Komen Foundation, care more about abortion than in saving women’s lives. Let’s hope that folks who have not been paying attention now know the real truth about Planned Parenthood.

I am told that Nancy Brinker sees the attacks on the Komen Foundation as attacks on her dead sister, whose death from breast cancer inspired the founding of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. How this will play out is anyone’s guess.


Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Center for Family & Human Rights (C-Fam), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-Fam.