Komen Foundation Racing For The Cure To Pedicide

​UPDATE — ​Karen Handel, vice president for public policy at the Susan G. Komen Foundation, has resigned in the wake of the Planned Parenthood controversy, The Associated Press reports. Handel had supported cutting off funding to the organization.

Pedicide is the act of shooting one's self in the foot, and the shot is fired from the mouth at the other end of the same body.

That's what the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation did, firing with both barrels, when it buckled under to pressure from right wing anti-abortion activists and cut off funding for Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screenings.  After two days of intense heat the group reversed itself and apologized for its action, but not before inflicting severe wounds to its once stellar image.

It may take a long time to find a cure for this self-inflicted wound. The organization gave into bullying by anti-abortion Florida Congressman Cliff Stearns (R) and others.  It is hard to believe Komen's insistence that there was no link between this decision and the hiring of an outspoken anti-abortion activist, Karen Handel, as a senior executive.  Handel is a former Republican candidate for governor who said during her campaign, "Since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood." 

The Komen Foundation's denial that there were any "political reasons" for the cutoff, and by giving conflicting reasons for the initial decision only intensified the firestorm.

Among the most outspoken in their opposition to Komen's decision were Reform Jews across the U.S., said Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Marla Feldman, executive director of the Women of Reform Judaism. The cutoff would have eliminated funding for Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screenings – a health service particularly vital in low-income communities, they said.

The rabbis urged Nancy G. Brinker, Komen’s chief executive, to use her "personal influence to ensure that the organization's work "will not be politicized in a manner detrimental to women’s health nor manipulated by those with a political agenda."

The head of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, reported that her group received nearly $3 million in donations for its breast cancer program from 10,000 people in response to the Komen action. One of the biggest donors coming to Planned Parenthood's defense was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who personally pledged a $250,000 matching grant to make up for the loss.

The Komen cutoff would have cost Planned Parenthood $700,000.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.