Ever since I heard about it yesterday morning, I’ve been casting about for a proper way to talk about the Komen foundation’s decision to stop donating funds to Planned Parenthood (which does a lot of work to make early screenings for breast cancer available to all kinds of women), as a result of their “new administrative rule”, which is really about caving to the pressure of a vocal minority who has a problem with Planned Parenthood in general, and at least one service PP provides (though only makes up about three percent of PP’s total services).
This post is the best I can do. As usual, Scalzi does it better. But more about him later…
Despite the fact that I’m married to a woman, have fathered two of them, know and love many of them, and have had at least one relative who was directly affected by breast cancer, I’ve not thought a lot about the Komen organization. I’m pretty sure I’ve sponsored one or two officemates in one of those walks/races/whatevers they do over the years, and if you’re an American, it’s hard to avoid purchasing something or other with that pink ribbon device on it, but that’s really about it.
However, I, and pretty much everyone in America has some idea what that pink ribbon signifies; the goal of “raising awareness” for breast cancer is pretty much nailed (some might say it’s a case of over-awareness).
The thoughts I do have are generally about that ribbon, and the megolithic PR campaign behind it. Getting that ribbon on every box of cereal and container of yogurt in America can’t be cheap. I wonder if their money could be better spent funding research to “find the cure” or providing services to diagnose early (and early diagnosis is the best way to “cure” this disease right now) than on furthering the pink ribbon brand. According to statistics, Komen spends about 20% of it’s proceeds on “research”, which, while certainly not the worst record, it certainly isn’t the most efficient overhead-to-actual-support ratio for a charity to have.
And this move to cut off Planned Parenthood due to some sort of controversy means that even less money goes toward exactly the kind of services that can lower breast cancer rates and keep women healthier in general.
It’s Komen’s right to spend their money however they want, but it’s the right of everyone who finds the decision boneheaded to donate their money elsewhere, like to Planned Parenthood.
Incidentally, if you’re of the mind to see that Planned Parenthood gets a few extra bucks toward cancer screening and education services, and enjoy reading good books on your ereader or mobile device, you might want to click over to John Scalzi’s blog and make a note of the fact that for the next week, He’s donating his personal income from ebook sales to Planned Parenthood, specifically for breast cancer services. He’s got the details over there, and a great write-up describing his feelings on the whole situation.
Incidentally, both the books and the commentary are worth reading.