Komen changes course

I don’t think it will help, but after the Susan G. Komen foundation cut funding to Planned Parenthood, they’ve now backed down and said they’ll continue existing grants. After the wingnuts were exposed in the Komen leadership, though, I can’t honestly say that I trust them anymore, and I’d be looking for better recipients of my donations (like the BCRF)…and after this reversal, I imagine the fundies who have been slapping each other on the back and congratulating themselves on their influence won’t be so happy, either.

This has been a very bad week for Komen. I would hope that there is some substantial turnover in management, because this has been a case of rank mismanagement of the foundation’s reputation.


  1. Stardrake says

    Yeah, this was too little, too late.

    I’ve heard of people shooting themselves in the foot, but this was doing it with a 75mm howitzer!

  2. Randomfactor says

    It’s “too little, too late” as in ZERO. They have NOT reversed their decision.

    They’re lying.

    If you read the statements, they say the current grants will continue. Duh–they’ve got signed agreements they have to honor. That’s not a change.

    They say Planned Parenthood could re-apply in the future for grants. Duh–I could apply for grants. They say nothing about FUNDING in the future, just that they’ll take applications.

    They just made their lives even more complicated–especially with the release of the “Pink Ribbons” movie…today.

  3. Stardrake says

    Interesting point, Randomfactor. Maybe now they’ll try suing PP for doing breast cancer screening without licensing the words “breast” and “cancer”.

    At this point, nothing would surprise me.

  4. alexandra14c says

    A lot of the Christian blogs I read were so excited about the defunding and started sending in huge donations to Komen. I LOLed when I saw this today. This is what happens when you make donations out of spite!

  5. hockeybob says

    We’ll see if this is just a face-saving (more like ass-saving) measure soon enough – now let’s get them to restore their stem cell research funding, as that was silently cut earlier.

  6. eddyline says

    In a strange, somewhat American, way, this has benefited both SGKftC and other women’s health charities: in today’s print edition of the LA Times AA section, Shari Roan wrote “Brinker said Komen’s donations had risen 100% since Tuesday, and Planned Parenthood announced that it had already received a large portion of the funds it needed to replace the loss of Komen grants. Among the Planned Parenthood donors was New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who pledged to give $1 for every new 1$ donation made to Planned Parenthood, up to $250,000.”

    Divide and conquer, indeed.

    Glad to see that Planned Parenthood is getting more funding…and, as PZ predicted, it hasn’t hurt Komen either.

  7. Nancy New, Queen of your Regulatory Nightmare says

    I’ll make my donations directly to Planned Parenthood.

  8. Randomfactor says

    Oh, I think it HAS hurt Komen. I think their advertising partners are reconsidering their support of such a wingnut-infested foundation.

    Especially after the documentary “Pink Ribbons” gets released today.

  9. skephtic says

    No, the SGKF has not changed course.

    They have only rescinded the pretend rule about not doing business with orgs “under investigation”–the rule the Atlantic reports was put in place just to give the board cover for dumping the org for political reasons. The SGKF has not committed to funding PP when their current contract is up. So PP funding is exactly where it was yesterday.

  10. eddyline says

    @ #9 hockeybob:

    Wow. Thanks for the link; I didn’t know that they had gone so far in that direction. They truly have lost sight of their mission…or changed it to a religiously based one. Too bad.

  11. janine says

    One of the asses connected to the FRC tweeted that their followers should demand a refund from the SGK.

  12. Randomfactor says

    I hope they ALL demand refunds from the SGK. They are NOT operating in good faith, and today’s lies show that.

    I really wish sometimes the FreethoughtBlogs headliners were a bit more, well, skeptical about news reports.

  13. janicot says


    They didn’t even do that (unless I am mistaken).

    The statement today said “We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.” Nothing about proven guilty in any form.

    They’ve changed NOTHING. I can’t believe how much of the media is buying their spin.

  14. skephtic says

    @ janicot

    Good point. The whole “criminal” investigation angle is still aimed at PP, because the congressman alleges criminal conduct.

    One wonders if SGKF has ended sponsorships with every corporation that has ever been investigated for criminal activity? I’m going to take a wild guess and say “no.”

    I hope PZ updates this thread. Perhaps it needs a new title, like “Right Wing charity fools lazy media with pretend retraction” or some such. And, of course, they are still banning fetal stem cell cancer research. They haven’t changed a thing.

  15. chriskg says

    Karen Handle needs to be fired to make me believe this reversal is in good (dare I say it) faith. In addition, there is irony in their new policy in that if a member of Congress decided to investigate SKG, they could not–under their own policy guidelines–fund themselves. Yet, they still insist it was not a political move. Now they are simply insulting our intelligence. I think Blaker is the only one that believes that and even though any “reversal” will as MSNBC put it, “spurred disappointment among social conservatives, showing that the organization still faces fallout from the [political] crisis.” At least this highlights the priorities of Social Conservatives.

  16. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    It’s all a sham.

    There are plenty of other good charities more deserving of your money and time.

  17. raven says

    I don’t believe them. Fundie xians always, always lie. It’s one of their main sacraments.

    This is spin, nothing more.

    I’m donating to Planned Parenthood and staying as far away from Komen as possible forever.

  18. Hekuni Cat says

    I will never donate to or support SGK again. Instead I gave directly to Planned Parenthood.

  19. says

    I figured that the Susan G. Komen Foundation needed to go one of two ways to survive this.

    1. Throw itself on the mercy of PP and its supporters. Admit it was a political move, fire Handel and whoever else was behind it, and restore all grants to PP.

    2. Outright align itself with the Republican party. Just admit that they don’t want to do business with a pro-choice organization and hope that the increased donations from conservatives outweigh the lost donations from PP supporters.

    This is some attempt at sneaking between those two options and it just won’t work. Everyone is pissed at them, and I’m not sure if the Foundation can survive this.

  20. alexandra14c says

    I feel like if they don’t give PP grants in the future, PP will make some noise about it and this will all blow up again. While this is just a PR thing, I think it’ll end well.

  21. TX_secular says

    I’ve never liked SGK, they do not try and cure cancer they raise awareness. It has always been dishonest about its mission.

  22. chriskg says

    This was just received via email from PPA, “Over the last three days, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Breast Health Fund has received more than $3 million from thousands of people across the country.”

    That’s more than three times the previous estimates!

  23. F says

    Note that Komen is franchised (or something) and regional offices act with some independence. The operation in Connecticut, I believe it was, said they would continue funding PP.

  24. Marta says

    “Komen Changes Course”.

    Oh, what bullshit. SKG has done nothing of the sort.

    Read their statement with care.

    How does it differ substantially from what they said earlier?

    All their new statement says is that they’re really, really sorry everyone is so mad at them, but it’s all our fault for watching them while they change their underpants.

  25. otrame says

    Gee, staying completely out of politics might be a good move for charities that actually want to do charity work.

  26. crowepps says

    Thanks for the link to the BCRF — many people are asking where their dollars should be going and you came through!

  27. robro says

    OMG, Noodlehead (#20), it’s a “tiny little hand gun”…can’t you just see it in Nancy Reagan’s bedside table? And being from Discount Gun Sales, it would be the perfect Saturday Night Special except for the $430 price tag. But, what exactly are you hoping for with the “Hope Edition” pink Walther P22?

  28. says

    Charities stay out of politics? What will United Way have left to do if they stayed out of politics? As it is they do absolutely fuck all charitable if it doesn’t suit their politics. Nice idea though, and my money will be going to PP and BCRF in addition to the NAFC – I always did hate those stupid pink ribbons.

  29. ewanmacdonald says

    Can someone dumb it down… When SGK said they were withdrawing the funding, did they mean immediately? Or was it at the next date of reapplication? If it was immediate then this is a bit of a U-turn. If it was at the date of reapplication then nothing has changed.

  30. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Can someone dumb it down… When SGK said they were withdrawing the funding, did they mean immediately? Or was it at the next date of reapplication? If it was immediate then this is a bit of a U-turn. If it was at the date of reapplication then nothing has changed.

    The funding they already promised couldn’t be withdrawn as fart as I understand. Any future funding was what they were dropping.

    So this announcement means a lot of nothing as they could still fail PP when they reapply for funding.

  31. says

    The franchise element of Komen has been weird for a long time.

    The Utah branch hasn’t funded PP since 2008, even though at that time, PP did not perform a single abortion in the state. They only began doing that in 2010 (and only at one location), which brings the number of places in Utah to get abortion services up to 2.

  32. Stardrake says

    noodlehead@20–Nah, they’ve done much more damage to themselves than they could do with a .22LR.

    Given their demonstrated “flair” for PR, you think they’ll try to bring back New Coke in pink cans? (j/k–I think Coke learned their lesson there. Doesn’t look like SGKF has.)

  33. truthspeaker says

    skephtic says:
    3 February 2012 at 12:49 pm

    @ janicot

    Good point. The whole “criminal” investigation angle is still aimed at PP, because the congressman alleges criminal conduct.

    He does, but he has no authority do undertake a criminal investigation, so if Komen sticks to the letter of their new rule*, then PP won’t be disqualified.

    *Which is still a stupid rule

  34. says

    PZ, your post got it wrong insofar that they never said they’d cut existing grants, see also this great Andrea Mitchell interview:


    The CEO has clarified today that

    We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair


    I guess that sounds ok, and PP can hold them to their word later. However, what’s strange is that the blog post cited by various news sources, to the Komen CEO Nancy Brinker, has disappeared. Very very strange…

  35. says

    It’s who they are. Komen has been bad news for years, even decades.

    That Alternet article cited had some good points, but it really, really exaggerated the environmental causes of breast cancer. For example:

    “What’s missing is the truth,” wrote Brady in a Spring 2001 newsletter article for the Women’s Cancer Resource Center, a support services center located in Berkeley, Calif. “There’s no talk about prevention, except, in terms of lifestyle, your diet for instance. No talk about ways to grow food more safely. No talk about how to curb industrial carcinogens. No talk about contaminated water or global warming.”

    This is fear mongering. The largest risk factors for breast cancer are age and genetics, with lesser contributions from delaying childbearing and not breast feeding. Environmental contributions to breast cancer have been looked for and in general have been found to be pretty low. Alcohol contributes, but the relative risk is small compared to family history. Ditto fatty diets. Unlike the case with lung cancer, for example, we’ve been arguing about whether smoking causes breast cancer for as long as I’ve been in the specialty; the evidence is mostly equivocal. Yet Brady makes it sound as though it’s all toxic chemicals causing breast cancer, and what global warming has to do with breast cancer I have no idea.

    In reality, in terms of prevention the biggest bang for the buck is to screen women for high risk family histories and offer genetic testing to the ones at increased risk and then to offer chemoprevention. After that would come the lifestyle and diet modifications that Komen advocates. Way down on the list would be chasing the chemical du jour, as Brady seems to advocate. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t look for environmental influences in breast cancer and clean up toxic wastes, but doing so is likely not to be nearly as important as Brady seems to think it will, at least not in terms of the effect on breast cancer.

  36. ewanmacdonald says

    The funding they already promised couldn’t be withdrawn as fart as I understand. Any future funding was what they were dropping.

    So this announcement means a lot of nothing as they could still fail PP when they reapply for funding.

    I see. Well, yes, there seems to be no actual change here. Then again SGK seem to be quite practised in issuing earnest-sounding statements that mean absolutely nothing at all. I was listening to the radio for their apparent “clarification” a couple of days back. I understood what all the words meant but couldn’t see how they actually formed a coherent sentence, much less justification.

    I’ll believe this is over when the money’s paid…

  37. says

    What I don’t get is, that they could’ve failed PP any time by finding some kind of program-related reason. Why now make such a disastrous move, costing them millions in donations?

    Of course had they dropped PP in the past, that still would’ve led to accusations of playing politics, but they could’ve hid behind the “they failed our nonpolitical criteria” excuse. Now by openly politicing their criteria, they’ve managed to fall between all chairs…

  38. says

    I’ve never liked SGK, they do not try and cure cancer they raise awareness. It has always been dishonest about its mission.

    Raising awareness==Promoting SGK.

    It’s a business that sells it’s own advertising as it’s product.

  39. Synfandel says

    robro (#35) says,

    OMG, Noodlehead (#20), it’s a “tiny little hand gun”…

    Tiny or otherwise, it’s a 22-calibre handgun! Fire one at your foot and see how tiny it feels. Do you see no irony in using pink firarms to save lives from breast cancer? Only in America could this seem sensible.

  40. says


    What I don’t get is, that they could’ve failed PP any time by finding some kind of program-related reason. Why now make such a disastrous move, costing them millions in donations?

    There’s a suspicion that it’s because of a new VP, Karen Handel. She’s a very right-wing Republican, who ran for governor of Georgia. Sarah Palin supported her, so you know she had to be bad.

  41. says


    ah yes, her. That makes sense.

    As far as I can see, the founder and CEO was also a Bush appointee in the State Department, as an ambassador to Hungary, among other things. But what puzzles me, as a diplomat (she was also chief of protocol) she should know how to handle these things better.

  42. says

    True, if she went to the George W. Bush School of Diplomacy….

    But her Wikipedia page doesn’t really make it clear if she was a career diplomat or not. Non-career diplomats usually just get appointed straight to ambassadorships, to the resentment of career diplomats (I think 10-20%). But she became Chief of Protocol, and then ambassador, so I don’t know….

  43. says

    Never assume someone who was a political appointee in the land of cronyism is actually talented at their position. It’s like assuming that kissing the bosses ass really does raise the company’s stock.

  44. sambarge says

    SGK is still refusing to fund studies that use embryonic stem cells in their research.

    They’re not backpedaling on all their right-wing bullshit.

  45. says


    non-career diplomat ambassadors usually have a capable deputy (I think they’re called chargé d’affairs) coaching them and running the show. Being an ambassador is hard, so if you fuck up, you will earn the scorn of the local diplomatic community, and it will damage US interests (also local government don’t like it when the administration appoints total idiots as they tend to see that as a snub)

    The only reason why these things still exist, except as an incentive for rich donors, is that an ambassador who is part of the inner circle of a president can benefit the receiving country more than a “mere” career diplomat. I think in this regard the current ambassador to Japan was a good choice.

    (During his campaign, Obama implicitly suggested he would do away with giving ambassadorships to donors, he has in fact not, his percentage of non-career ambassadors is roughly the same compared to previous administrations)

  46. says


    Thanks for that response…I was googling that movie, and read some of the details and immediately starting thinking about how much of the environmental stuff that is “being completely neglected in the research” sounded possibly ill informed…

  47. GrudgeDK says

    Don’t worry, you can still buy the “Handgun for Hope” a Walther P-22 with a pink slide which, while I suppose technically counts as a cure for cancer, isn’t the kind of cure most people are hoping for.

    Also, Since Susan G. Koman for The Cure, apparently are a bunch of litigious assholes, sueing other non-profit cancer organizations because, there can be only one, I kind of wish Robert Smith, front man for *The* *Cure* would sue them for trademark infringement.

  48. Synfandel says

    There can be only one? So if an SGKFC officer meets a BCRF officer in an ally are there a lot of sparks, some sword play, and one of them taking off the other’s head?

  49. says

    NPR now stating that the CEO had said that the reason for the funding issue was because PP did not do mammograms? and that some person on the piece was saying that future funding may not qualify on this same basis?? Whats this mammogram business about..? they said that PP does manual breast exams..why does PP have ability to to mammograms? Money I would think?

  50. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Yeah, I just heard that, too. I can’t believe that no-fucking-one on All Things Considered has questioned the mammogram argument, considering this is the first time it has come up!

    Which is it SGK, the Congressional investigation OR the manual breast exams? Both? Neither? Get you stories straight, assholes.

  51. Part-Time Insomniac, Zombie Porcupine Nox Arcana Fan says

    Now if only their pink ribbons weren’t plastered and glued to everything in the markets come October. And they can take their new direction and choke on it. Hanging themselves with it would be even better.

  52. chrislawson says


    Unfortunately there is no way any charity can “avoid politics”. Performing abortions is political. Running a needle exchange is political. Providing contraceptive advice is political. Giving a beggar some loose change has political implications. As the saying goes, “You may not be interested in politics, but politics in interested in you.”

  53. robro says

    @ Synfandel #48 — Gosh, I thought a reference to Nancy Reagan and her “tiny little hand gun” was loaded with irony. Perhaps it’s age related. Having taken care of a couple of gun shot victims (self-inflicted, accidental) in the distant past, I’m also aware of the damage that even a minor wound can do. But, yeah, just to make it ex-plic-it: I think it’s really ironic, even bizarrely ironic, that they’re selling guns that can take lives to raise money to save lives. It seems like such a…I don’t know…”Texas” kind of thing to do. Kind of like the SPCA holding a turkey shoot.

  54. robro says

    There’s more news about this pink hand gun business. According to a CBS News story here, the Komen Foundation has denied any relationship with DGS. The story also says that DGS has taken down the offer on their website. However, I just went to the DGS website and the Hope Edition P22 is still displayed on the front page and the detail description of the gun refers to it’s support for the Komen Foundation. Ironically, the description has a note at that top saying that “Due to overwhelming demand…” they are not taking backorders.

  55. alaric says

    What I find most interesting about the whole issue of abortion is that it was not a political or major religous issue until the 70’s with Roe v Wade and then picked up some momentum with Reagan in the 80’s. Now there is a huge number of single issue votes on the subject. I didn’t find any recent polling on the topic but there was a CNN/Usa Today/Gallup poll done in 2004 (Margin of error about 3% with around 1000 respondents) that showed 30% of pro-life voters will only vote for candidates who share thier views on abortion. I assume there must be a similar statistic for people funding of nonprofits based on the issue. It is just sad to see how funding for worthy causes has gotten so close to being cut based on what seems to become an overblown issue.

  56. raven says

    Komen has changed their story now. It’s all because Planned Parenthood doesn’t have an x-ray mammography machine.

    Which is absurd. That is not the only way to screen for breast cancer and it’s not indicated for everyone. No one really knows which groups and at what age they should have x-ray screenings right now.

    They do refer to imaging centers which for some mysterious reason, are quite competent to do the screening.

    SG Komen = right wing fundie xian hate group.

    Fundies always have to hate something. In their never ending quest to find new hate targets, Planned Parenthood is just the latest victim.

    Hitchens got it right again. Religion poisons everything. Another group drank the toxic kook aide.

  57. raven says

    Here on the coast, the furor seems to just be starting. The local affiliates in California are so ticked off, they can’t see straight.

    No one believes their lame spin job.

    Hard to say where this is going. But I doubt it will die down soon. Fundie xian kooks got to hate and they aren’t going to pass up another group to hate.

  58. donnbarnes says

    Komen has lost this one regardless. Before the stupid move the wingnuts were merely irritated that they were granting funds to the evil abortionist. They felt a great victory once Planned Parenthood was defunded and a great letdown when that decision was rescinded. Now they are pissed and Komen will lose funding from that direction… and some of them were big donors.

    Komen has lost respect in all corners which dilutes their effectiveness, although the jury is still out over whether anything Komen or any of the other similar efforts have had any positive effect at all. Breast cancer is more prevalent today than ever.

  59. anuran says

    Wouldn’t trust ’em further than I could throw ’em overhand.
    Just give the money directly to Planned Parenthood.

  60. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    This debacle has been a good thing. It’s woken up many people to the realization that donating to a Brand Name Advocacy Corporation might not be the most efficient way to help actual people.

    Who’s actually helping women—especially poor women, teenagers, and single mothers—get health care in the real world? Planned Parenthood. They don’t have the time, money, or staff to be distracted by a global fucking branding campaign to get their name on Campbell’s Soup cans. They’re too busy actually giving women desperately needed gynecological exams, birth control, and cancer screenings.

    So, yeah. No one gets to feel good anymore about buying a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken awash in pink puke. We’ll actually have to donate to real organizations that do real work, for real people, if we want to feel all glowey and virtuous inside.


  61. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    And mind you, I say this as an employee of a nonprofit advocacy organization myself. Very, very far removed from the cushy, corporate atmosphere of Komen, with its half-million-dollar salaries for executives. Not only does my organization not have time for that bullshit—I’d actively fight my own employer if they asked me to spend that much time sucking up a salary to sell our “brand” instead of getting our hands dirty fighting the good fight.

  62. says


    So, yeah. No one gets to feel good anymore about buying a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken awash in pink puke.

    Mister was a tad bummed about the KFC business, as he goes there about once every 6 weeks when he’s in Dickinson. He said he’ll find some other crappy fast food source instead.

  63. Josh, Official SpokesGay says


    Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying anyone should or shouldn’t patronize a business over this, just that they shouldn’t direct their custom to a pinkified place just cuz it’s pinkified.

    When it comes to Kentucky Fried Chicken, I reserve my right to pick some up on the very, very rare occasions I allow my arterial system to handle it. I fuckin’ love that shit. :))

  64. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    For me, what is usually described as “moist”, means disgustingly soggy.

    Well, I love that msg-marinated bullshit. To each they own.

  65. julietdefarge says

    I feel like I get more cancer-fightin’ bang for my buck when I support environmental causes. Keeping carcinogens out of air, water, and food has got to be more effective than feeding Komen’s merchandising machine and vainly hoping big pharma will find an affordable cure.

  66. Ichthyic says


    You’ve tried cooking your own fried chicken, yeah?

    I dunno, but seems to me that the chicken I cook always tastes way better than KFC.

    they use way too much salt IMO, and then of course the chicken just sits around in heavy grease for ages and ages.


    It’s not any better here in NZ than it is in the States, interestingly enough.

    like comparing a McDonald’s hambuger to a hamburger from an actual sit down restaurant here.

    oh, way back when, I think it was Rev said:

    “Backpedaling for the Cure”

    and that was full of win, I want to add.

  67. Ichthyic says

    I feel like I get more cancer-fightin’ bang for my buck when I support environmental causes

    it entirely depends on the type of cancer.

    In the case of breast cancer, not so much.