The Susan G. Komen for the Cure decision to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood was a terribly shortsighted thing to do. Komen was right to reverse itself.
YEARS from now, students in college-level public-relations classes will be offered the “Susan G. Komen for the Cure fiasco” for analysis. Komen’s short-lived decision to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood is a study in how to alienate supporters.
The most troubling thing about Komen is that an organization with longstanding connections to numerous companies, sports organizations and nationwide feel-good events took its sterling brand and trashed it in a matter of days.
All the organizations and individuals eager to donate to Komen, wear pink bracelets and support numerous breast-cancer-awareness events had to wonder how this group could get itself so tangled in politics. What a shortsighted thing to do.
The story by now is well known. Komen adopted new criteria that excluded Planned Parenthood for future grants for breast-cancer screenings because it was under government investigation. A pretty thin and highly politicized one at that. It was led by a Florida congressman acting on behalf of anti-abortion advocates.
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Komen’s decision not to be involved with any group under investigation turned out to be a flimsy explanation for ending exams for poor and rural women who depended on Planned Parenthood for important, lifesaving health services.
There was no conclusion to the investigation. Any member of Congress with a variety of motives can launch such an inquiry.
Storms of protest ensued. Supporters railed against Komen on the Internet. Two dozen U.S. senators, including Washington Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, signed a letter urging Komen to rethink its decision. Komen affiliates threatened to defy the rules.
A sincere apology and about-face came Friday, but certain damage was done.
A group like Komen only has the quality service it provides and goodwill garnered over the years to encourage donations and support. Its trademark pink is not as bold as before. For the moment, it seems drab and faded.