Friday, February 03, 2012

Why I am Ashamed of My Fellow Americans' Response to Susan G. Komen Foundation

The media furor over the choice of Susan G. Komen Foundation to drop the Planned Parenthood donation support of the relatively minute $700,000 is something I find disheartening.

The behemoth organization of Planned Parenthood which brings in $93 million would barely even be touched by the loss this money, and they pretend this would somehow stop breast cancer screenings, but that is not why I am so disheartened.

Yes Planned Parenthood is a major contributor to the abortion industry in the US, and I am pro-life, but that is not why I am disheartened.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is a major private philanthropic organization, and it has the right to choose where its money goes without being beholden to 26 Congressmen, and a percentage of the public who may not hold their views. But, that is not why I am disheartened.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is about fighting breast cancer, and not funding specific popular programs, and has the responsibility to place their funds in the most effective locations. Planned Parenthood has actually proven itself to be both negligent, and incompetent in a number of situations recently. But, this too is not why I am disheartened.

Today I had a discussion with a friend about an event at a Christian gathering. It was a discussion about the Bible and sexuality. Someone asked an honest question about human sexuality from a conservative perspective, and was shouted down and booed. There were no answers given, just a gross mob response (and I use the word "gross" in every capacity here.) This highlights why I am disheartened.

There is no place for agreeable disagreement in American politics today. There is no place for someone to walk an uncommon path without being demonized today. Nancy Brinker who started the Susan G. Komen foundation 30 years ago, because her sister died from breast cancer offers her reason for the board making this decision, and clearly states that this does not change the current funding. Of course, her detractors insist she is lying, and that this is politically motivated. (That is how we prove our point in America today.) Yet, the response is political, and there is political force being exerted to change the course of their decisions as a board. Who is playing politics here?

America has become a mean nation. We are mean to our own, and there is no more discussion on any philosophical level. We live off nasty threats and lawsuits. We pretend to be civilized and find a new witch hunt around every new corner. The left is the new bully who threatens at every right turn, and demonizes conservatives who really do care, and right is the old bully who punches at every left turn and pressures every disagreeing party. We are eating one another like cannibals at a horror theme park. This is zombie politics.

If you think Planned Parenthood deserves support then do something about it and give. If you disagree with the Susan G. Komen Foundation's decision and want to say something about it - fine, but if you do it disrespectfully - shame on you. Those $700,000 once dedicated to Planned Parenthood will still help fight breast cancer somewhere else, and will still help reach the poor.

I am looking for a new political party - the Listening Party. A group of people who will actually listen to those they disagree with. I am ashamed of those who do not listen but only shout, because we have become a mean nation, and consequently, a stupid nation.

That's what I think. What do you say?


Steve Hayes said...

It's probably true of most countries, but it somehow seems more "in your face" in America.

Pastor Phil said...

Perhaps it is because we have a two party system, or maybe it is because we are a very practical nation. The only philosophy truly born in America was Pragmatism.

So are we are left with a "does it work?" mentality, and only yes and no options?

Andy V, UK said...

There's something about the way liberalism is flouted until it doesn't suit which is quite unnerving.

In the UK today, Christians have been ruled against by the Advertising Standards Authority and so are banned from making claims in their advertising such as "God heals through prayer". All because someone decided it was an unsubstantiated claim.

Rather than say "well, let's hope He does" it's come down to "We respect your belief system, unless it doesn't suit us or you annoy us".

America's politics are tangled but have the clever knack of appearing straighforward, Right or Left. When the topic approaches an area where Truth has a clear remit, then we see the limited capacity of man to assimilate the bigger picture. Usually because he's busy focusing on defending his right to make stupid choices.

I have no answers to any of the above. Shoot me now.

Anonymous said...

Very well put, Phil. Thank you.

Mycroft said...

Phil, here is a much more reasoned piece about why Komen's policy is wrong:

Sonja Andrews said...

Well ... Phil, I'm going to try again here.

Even in your (more reasoned) piece you are showing a great deal of bias.

In your first 5 paragraphs you manage to pit Planned Parenthood and Susan G. Komen against one another in the very manner that you claim to abhor. Planned Parenthood is “a behemoth organization” which brings in over $93 million ... but you don’t mention anywhere what size Susan G. Komen is or what kind of revenue it brings in. This makes PP sound like Goliath and SGK like David. I did some prowling around and found that for the fiscal year 2009-2010 SGK reported earnings of $400 million (appr.) ... 91% of which was “earned” through private donations, corporate sponsorships, race fees, etc. Of that $400 million, 13% or $52 million was devoted to public health (whatever that means). $22 million (5.6%) was devoted to actual treatment of breast cancer. Total of funds going to screening and care for women = $74 million. Laudable? Yes. But as a portion of what SGK does ... it’s less than 1/4 of their mission. And that’s up to SGK to decide as you’ve pointed out.

Now to look at Planned Parenthood. I downloaded their 2009-2010 Annual Report (available on their website). According to this report, the amount they spend on breast cancer screenings is almost entirely funded by the Susan G. Komen relationship. It may be a pittance in terms of the budgets of both organizations, but to the women receiving the screenings, it’s everything. PP does have a significantly larger budget to work with. It’s closer to $1.1 billion. Of that, 83% is spent on Medical Services (68%) or Non-Medical Domestic Program Services (15% - WIC counseling, family/birth-control planning, public health education, etc.) Their revenue comes from Government Grants/Reimbursements (46%), Non-government Health Services Revenue(??) (31%) and Private Donations/Bequests/Other (23%).

Planned Parenthood has been sanctioned by the government to act on it’s behalf to dispense healthcare to women (and men) who would otherwise not have any. I know this because I used them when I was right out of college and didn’t have health insurance. Most of my friends did. Some still do because their health insurance is woefully lacking when it comes to birth control and family planning.

There are enough unbiased reports ( ) that support the notion that the decision made by SGK was indeed political that I am comfortable with standing by that. I actually don’t have a problem with their executive board making a political decision, if that’s the direction their organization wishes to take. However, they have to be prepared to withstand the consequences of that decision. Those consequences are going to be extremely negative in an era when it’s become popular and profitable to take potshots at the poor and at women.

You see this as an example of ugly politics. Extremism gone wild. We’re eating our own. I see it as yet another example of people rising up to say that institutions are not going to run our lives any longer. The old ways are passing away and new forms are coming into being. It’s shaking things up and making people very uncomfortable. Ugly voices and shouting are going to happen because there is a lot of anger out there. But not all anger is bad. And learning to use one’s voice sometimes means you shout when you should use an inside voice. That’s okay. It’s a process.

In the long run, it looks as though PP more than made up for it’s lost revenue (as I knew they would). SGK appears to have rescinded the withdrawal for at least this year and is making some necessary changes to their policy to make it more fair. Both are good things. I think SGK needs to refine it’s mission again before making these kinds of moves (it was naive at best and charlatan at worst). This is going to hurt them for a while. And they will have to deal with that.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Sonja,

Great reply - Thanks.

Thought #1:

on the use of "behemoth": This was not to pit PP and SGK, but rather to contrast $700,000 against their overall money - which is actually a lot larger than the number I sited.

Good observation that it appears to pit PP against SGK, but that was not the intention. They get huge bucks, and $700,000 is like a $1 in my pocket comparatively. Financially, they are a "behemoth."

SGK is after a cure - that is the primary mission, and should be evident in their funding.

Not noted in my response, because it is not part of my primary concern with how people are treating this: PP is under investigation. Live Action may not be a group you trust, but they seriously busted PP workers being willing to act criminally over the last couple years. Yes, those workers got fired. Was there sufficient response to the problems? - still to be determined methinks. That plays into my next point.

SGK quietly was going to stop future funding of PP. It was not SGK that made a stink, and put it into the political arena. You can be guaranteed it was PP and or their friends who turned this into a public spectacle. You call it good anger. I call it being mean. When I say that, I am not pointing at you, but at the general activity of most of the people I read responding to this issue. The real politics were "played" to max not on the side of SGK but of PP and their friends. To read this story any other way IS to play politics, and in fact it seems that the politic players include people such as yourself who viewed their anger as an appropriate response - in a democracy (De Toqueville called it the tyranny of the minority) that is often how politics work - but, this was as mean as I have seen things, and this is what I am disheartened by - especially toward an amazing philanthropic organization.

I won't reply to the rest of your post, because it was a defense of PP. It is of interest, but not to my thoughts here, and since you based them upon my statements of PP being a "behemoth" as a contrast to SGK, and that was not my context, the points of defense don't really apply here.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Mycroft, thanks for posting here. I don't think "wrong" is the right word. (Ha! silly wordplay going on there.) As you noted elsewhere, they have the ability and right to put their money where they want. It is not "wrong." You may disagree with it, but there is nothing illegal, immoral, or otherwise "wrong" - except in the eyes of those who have a political position on women's rights, and saw this as a movement against them. That is an incorrect way to view this issue methinks.