Thursday, February 2, 2012

Oh Nancy, how your sister would be disappointed in you...

As most people know, Nancy Brinker started the Susan G. Komen "For the Cure" Foundation in 1980 after her sister died of breast cancer. Susan asked Nancy to promise to work towards finding a cure. So many amazing charities have been founded in loved one's honor; there's no better motivation than the memory of a loved one or the commitment to prevent other's suffering.

But 32 years later, the Komen foundation has deteriorated into a manipulative, political organization. By now, you've probably read about the organization's political decision to withdraw funding of breast cancer exams for lower-income women via Planned Parenthood. As this article in Jezebel explains (How the Susan G. Komen Foundation Lost Its Way),
"..Since the foundation's inception, over $1.9 billion has been raised for breast cancer research and prevention...but in recent years, it seems that the organization has lost its way, becoming more about self-promotion and self-preservation...the organization has refused to acknowledge the link between the chemical BPA and cancer even in the face of piles of science establishing a link, presumably because several of their large donors just so happen to manufacture products that rely on 2010, they spent more than $1 million suing smaller charities that used the phrase "for the Cure" in their names or in their fundraising program encouraged socially mobile cancer fighters to battle cancer themselves by mailing in Yoplait tops in order to prompt the company to make a 10-cent donation. Postage at the time was 37 cents; Yoplait prices varied."
It goes on to say that CEO Nancy Brinker is a Republican and has donated large amounts of money to Republican candidates. Now the anti-abortion VP Karen Handel (and Georgia politician) is driving the organization into the ground and using it as a weapon in the battle for women's health.

I've never walked or run in the Race for the Cure, but I've given a lot of money to the organization to sponsor other friends. To be honest, the cloying pink everywhere, in addition to the mega-advertising machine that has developed partnerships with countless products, has annoyed me. When I learned about the organization's expenditure of over $1 million to sue the little organizations that use "the cure," I stopped supporting the organization. Had I known that its CEO supported Republican candidates, I would have stopped earlier.

And Nancy Brinker, she pays herself over half a million dollars out of the foundation's coffers (how's that for a selfless act of honoring her sister?). Only 80 percent of the amount raised actually goes to cancer research and prevention (not a great rating). When we donate to "For the Cure," we indirectly fund Republican candidates through Brinker's enormous salary. Not many people knew this before, I'm guessing, but they sure do now.

Late-breaking news in the Atlantic: Sources from inside the organization say that this decision was part of a deliberate effort to cut off connections with Planned Parenthood because of right-wing pressure. In addition, Komen's top public health official, Mollie Williams, resigned after this political decision was announced, saying, "...anyone who knows me personally would tell you that I am an advocate for women's health. I have dedicated my career to fighting for the rights of the marginalized and underserved. And I believe it would be a mistake for any organization to bow to political pressure and compromise its mission."

Given that somewhere between 15 and 23 percent of Americans disapprove of abortion in all cases, and 24 percent disapprove of birth control, this is not going to be a popular decision. Thousands of women who have supported the Komen organization will no longer have anything to do with it.

Jezebel further notes that "the organization has grown from a sweet promise to a dying sister into a pink clad right-wing sorority of sanctimonious hypocrisy."

How could Nancy do this to her sister's memory?


  1. bravo! SGK will never see another dime from me! great post.

  2. SGK has now "apologized," but after everything I've learned about that organization, I'm not giving them my support.