(This is a guest post to the MOMocrats by @litbrit — Deborah Newell Tornello. It originally appeared at her blog, LitBrit, and is cross-posted with permission. –Cynematic)
Over the past five years, the Komen organization has given Planned Parenthood health centers the funds to provide nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams to low-income and uninsured women. But now, amid pressure from anti-abortion lawmakers and organizations, Komen has made the decision to cut off hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to Planned Parenthood.
And as you may have already heard, Komen’s unconscionable defunding move has absolutely nothing to do with supporting women nor with providing them with the means to detect cancer at an early stage and thus improving their prognosis and survival rates.
First, let me be clear, since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood. During my time as Chairman of Fulton County, there were federal and state pass-through grants that were awarded to Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as a “Healthy Babies Initiative.” The grant was authorized, regulated, administered and distributed through the State of Georgia. Because of the criteria, regulations and parameters of the grant, Planned Parenthood was the only eligible vendor approved to meet the state criteria. Additionally, none of the services in any way involved abortions or abortion-related services. In fact, state and federal law prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for abortions or abortion related services and I strongly support those laws. Since grants like these are from the state I’ll eliminate them as your next Governor.
The above paragraph comes directly from Handel’s campaign blog, so one can safely assume that her anti-choice defunding scheme was well-known to the people in charge at Komen when they appointed her. And now we know about it, too.
In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, ending March 31, 2010, Komen reported approximately US $400 million in earnings. Of this, $365 million (91.3 percent) came from contributions from the public, including donations, sponsorships, race entry fees, and contributed goods and services. Approximately $35 million (8.8 percent) came from interest and dividends and gains on investments.
Expenditures (for the same year):
And what of those “fund-raising costs” and “administrative costs”?
Donating by making a purchase is a “really seductive” idea, says Samantha King, a professor of health studies at Queens University in Kingston, Ont., and the author of a new book, Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy (University of Minnesota; 157 pages). “People often say to me, ‘I’m really busy, and this is something small I can do.’ But the problem is, it’s really not clear what kind of positive effect it’s having overall.”
Some of the pink-ribbon promotions don’t make much sense financially. Take Yoplait’s offer to donate 10¢ to the Komen Foundation for every pink yogurt lid mailed to the company from September through December. Komen would get a bigger donation if consumers simply donated the 39¢ it costs to buy each stamp, not to mention the fact that donors would have to polish off 100 yogurts to come up with a $10 contribution–a formula that surely enriches Yoplait more than the breast-cancer cause.
Big Pharma’s tentacles
By way of explanation: Senator Joe Lieberman–who famously fought having any kind of “public option” or Medicare for All, during the healthcare debate–is married to a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry and at the same time actively workedto push legislation that would benefit these giant multinational conglomerates:
Among Hill & Knowlton’s clients when Mrs. Lieberman signed on with the firm last year was GlaxoSmithKline, the huge British-based drug company that makes vaccines along with many other drugs. As I noted in July, Sen. Lieberman introduced a bill in April 2005 (the month after his wife joined Hill & Knowlton) that would award billions of dollars in new “incentives” to companies like GlaxoSmithKline to persuade them to make more new vaccines. Under the legislation, known as Bioshield II, the cost to consumers and governments would be astronomical, but for Lieberman and his Republican cosponsors, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., the results would be worth every penny. Using the war on terror as their ideological backdrop, the pharma-friendly senators sought to win patent extensions on products that have nothing to do with preparations against terrorist attack or natural disaster.
It has come to my attention via an article by Joe Conason in Salon that Hadassah Lieberman – wife of Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) – is currently a compensated “Global Ambassador” for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It is widely known, however, that not only has Senator Lieberman been an instrument of obstruction to the kind of health care reform advocated by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but that Mrs. Lieberman is also a former lobbyist worked for the lobbying firm APCO Associates, which represents the interests of the same major, private health insurance and pharmaceutical companies which Mr. Lieberman seeks to protect.
Mrs. Lieberman’s relationship with Susan G. Komen for the Cure is unethical and misleading. Important and often very personal donations made to Susan G. Komen for the Cure to benefit the sick and dying are essentially undermining their intended use. And as Hadassah travels the globe under the banner of Susan G. Komen for the cure, decrying the inadequacies of our health care system and the desperate need to reform it, her husband is at home to kill the reform efforts we so desperately need.
Komen’s page on the charity review site Great Nonprofits offers a great deal of telling commentary. Bearing in mind that these are self-reported experiences that are by definition not from documented sources, take a look at what people who’ve participated in the Run for the Cure–or simply donated–have to say (the following comments are all dated weeks or months prior to the defunding of Planned Parenthood):
As a scientist myself I’ve taken the time to look into the research the Komen foundation funds and nearly all of it goes to the interest of pharmaceutical companies. The continue to help companies fund research to patent new chemotheraputic drugs while ignoring any serious competition such as the Burzynski clinic. At the same time the CEO owns stock in pharmaceutical companies she’s giving grants to, and these companies always get to patent the drug the Komen foundation helps them research. If the Komen foundation cared about curing cancer they wouldn’t let for profit companies keep patents.
I am glad to read that others are concerned about this organization as well. Here’s what I have to say. A best friend of mine contacted the SGK foundation and she’s a Breast Cancer Survivor, when her young daughter (25 yrs old) who is under insured had signs of early BC, she contacted SGK and requested some financial assistance for her daughter to get it checked out. The SGK representative told her that “they don’t help people in her zip code.” I was furious when I heard this and called the foundation myself to see what they would say when I gave them a similar situation, they too told me that they didn’t help people in my zip code. So I emailed the SGK foundation myself and requested to find out how much money had been raised in my area (Zip code) through the walks and other events. They refused to comment and i messaged them back asking them: “How can you take money out of this community through your run/walk events and NOT give money back to help people in this area?” I never got a response back and I refuse to support this cause because of it.
Shocked!! Organization took in $135 Million in 2010, provided grants for research, education & screening of $74 Million and a paltry $10,000 (yes, only ten thousand dollars) in grants to individuals in the USA. The remaining millions were used to pay contractors (other expenses line items) and employees (many in the high 6 figure income bracket). Shameful, absolutely shameful.
I signed up to do the SGK 3-day walk for the cure. I was so proud to be able to walk for my mother-in-law who lost her battle with breast cancer on april 4, 2009. I sent the “donate for me” letters which stated, “help her get to her financial goal.” I emphasize “GOAL.” I soon realized that I was required to bring in $2,300! Apparently this little nugget is buried in the terms and conditions and forever after noted as a “GOAL.” I cannot bring in that kind of money. My friends and family donated and I got to $300, but I don’t have the time to campaign the way they want you to. I was appalled to also find out that if I didn’t make it to $2,300 by the day of the event, I could give them a credit card for the remainder or just go home. They neither refund any money collected by me or my registration – which is not tax deductible. I found this outrageous and deceptive. They keep my money – received by my family to support me in this event. I basically signed up to be an unpaid fundraiser. I would think any donation and the willingness to walk 60 miles to promote awareness would be thanked….not with SGK. I’m not good enough for their charity. I agree with a former reviewer – I think they lost their way. They have raised nearly 2 billion dollars and there is no cure.