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Truthdiggers of the Week: Planned Parenthood Supporters

With all the worries about corporate colonization of the Internet and the specter of online censorship getting spookier all the time, it’s important to acknowledge the ways in which the Web can still be used for the greater good. That’s why we salute as our Truthdiggers of the Week all those who quickly mobilized, both online and in the analog world, to protest against and ultimately help reverse a policy of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation that would have denied funding to Planned Parenthood.

The breast cancer charity released a statement Friday in an effort to do some serious backpedaling after making the poorly received choice, revealed earlier in the week, to block funding to Planned Parenthood outposts based on a rationale that just happened to dovetail nicely with an anti-abortion agenda. Here’s a quick sum-up of that inciting incident.

Los Angeles Times:

On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood revealed that 19 of its affiliates would no longer receive grants from the Komen foundation for breast health programs because of revamped criteria barring new grants to groups
under local, state or federal investigations. Planned Parenthood is under congressional investigation by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who is looking into whether it used federal funding for abortion services, which is not permitted.

Under Komen’s new rules, organizations under investigation can’t receive new funds until the matter is resolved.

Read more

That decision registered broadly as politically charged, and the opposition began organizing on- and offline. Facebook and the Twitterverse lit up, and critics in the media added force to the growing public outcry. On Thursday, The New York Times’ editorial team let fly with a scathing indictment of Komen’s decision under the headline “A Painful Betrayal.”

The New York Times:

With its roster of corporate sponsors and the pink ribbons that lend a halo to almost any kind of product you can think of, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation has a longstanding reputation as a staunch protector of women’s health. That reputation suffered a grievous, perhaps mortal, wound this week from the news that Komen, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, decided to betray that mission. It threw itself into the middle of one of America’s nastiest political battles, on the side of hard-right forces working to demonize Planned Parenthood and undermine women’s health and freedom.

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It’s also worth noting that the Times editors pointedly remarked about how the foundation’s politicized stance could impact its branding and corporate sponsorship: “In addition to harming women,” they wrote Thursday, “the foundation has also tarnished, perhaps permanently, its brand, symbolized by the pink ribbon that adorns yogurt cups and running shoes and tote bags and Federal Premium Ammunition’s pink shotgun shells. Companies like Ford Motor, Dell and Yoplait may not find the same value in identifying themselves with the foundation after its sharp departure from political neutrality.”

By Friday, the message had clearly been received by higher-ups at Susan G. Komen for the Cure (and indeed their ranks had thinned a bit by then). Here’s the gist of Friday’s apology:

The Susan G. Komen Foundation:

We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives. The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.

Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. 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.

Read more

Planned Parenthood appreciated the widespread support, President Cecile Richards said in a written statement Friday. “The outpouring of support for women in need of lifesaving breast cancer screening this week has been astonishing and is a testament to our nation’s compassion and sincerity,” said Richards. By then, the celebration was well under way online, where much of the protest had taken hold.

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