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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Sunday, February 19, 2012

    Komen's Swerve to the Right Great for Planned Parenthood...not so much for Komen

    The Susan G Komen Foundation, under the blind guidance of their right wing extremist VP, Karen Handel (now resigned in disgrace), and the Bush Administration official Ari Fleisher (whose involvement remains shadowy), really screwed up by politicizing their message. Their biggest strength has always been their ability to appeal across the political spectrum. By taking a clear swerve to right wing extremism, thy have within a matter of days destroyed their support base and it could be years before they recover.

    I got an email soon after the fiasco from friend and blogger Sidnora, a LONG TIME supporter and activist for the Komen Foundation. From what I can tell, her response is typical of what Komen has created for itself. I am quoting by permission:

    Dear friends and supporters,

    Breast cancer has no politics.

    For more than a decade, I have been known as an active supporter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. This commitment arose from deeply emotional personal events. I have solicited sponsorship from you for my annual participation in their Race for the Cure, and many of you have responded with great generosity. Over the years, we raised over $10,000 dollars intended for breast cancer research, screening and treatment.

    While doing this, I was aware that the founder and CEO of Komen, Nancy Brinker, is a prominent Republican and Bush Administration appointee. I am an outspoken Democrat, but I always felt that this was a cause that transcended ideology, and willingly put my partisanship aside in the interest of pursuing a greater good together. I have no regrets for having made that effort, and I don't think you should, either. We can be reasonably sure that, on the whole, we did good, not harm.

    Breast cancer has no politics.

    What many of you may not know is that I have a far longer history with Planned Parenthood. As a teenage college student with little money or privacy, I had my first gynecological exam and received my first contraceptive prescription from Planned Parenthood. It was free and confidential, and I was treated with respect. For enabling me to make the transition to womanhood with confidence about my health and my future, I will always be grateful to them. 45 years later, they continue to pursue their mission, providing millions of women, mostly young and poor or uninsured, with a full range of women's health services. I wholeheartedly support that mission.

    In light of the Komen Foundation's recent decision to defund Planned Parenthood, its obviously political motivation, and their clumsy and disingenuous attempts at managing the nationwide public outrage that followed, I find that can no longer associate myself with them. I make this decision despite the fact that Komen has reversed themselves and will continue to fund Planned Parenthood, at least for now. Revelations about the hiring of Karen Handel, former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia and avowed enemy of Planned Parenthood, and the involvement in that hiring by Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush's press secretary, have destroyed my trust in them. They also directly conflict with my commitment to the advancement of women's health.

    Breast cancer has no politics.

    I plan to continue that commitment, and will be researching to find a breast cancer organization that I can support with confidence. It is essential that my efforts, and your contributions, will be put to our intended purpose and no other. I will keep you informed of my progress, and I hope you will continue to support my advocacy. If you would like to discuss this decision with me in greater detail, I would welcome that. Feel free to contact me.

    Breast cancer has no politics.


    What is key here is the fact that this isn't a fight between right and left. This is a battle to stop the deliberate politicizing of breast cancer by right wing fanatics. This is a battle to prevent right wing fanatics from destroying the effectiveness of the Komen Foundation in the name of a right wing agenda. Keep in mind these are the same right wing fanatics who oppose science and research funding at every opportunity, so Komen is allying itself with the very people who hurt scientific funding year after year. The Komen Foundation HIRED A BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL in preparation for this policy. They were deliberately politicizing their agenda. The reaction was not a leftist reaction, it was a reaction against politicizing breast cancer.

    The fall out from Komen's deliberate politicizing of breast cancer actually greatly helped the very organization that they aimed to hurt. We have all heard of the large grants Bloomberg and Lance Armstrong have given to Planned Parenthood specifically in reaction to Komen's actions. We have all heard of the $3 million raised over three days (far more than Komen gives in one year to Planned Parenthood) by Planned Parenthood in reaction to Komen's actions. But the impact is wider and more money will be pouring in over time to Planned Parenthood.

    A friend of Joy and me is a fundraiser. He is one of those people who are on the streets raising money for various organizations. He works for one of the companies that does this professionally and organizations like Planned Parenthood subcontract to for key fundraising efforts. He is one of the most successful of these people and trains others to fundraise. But in the current economy even he has been struggling.

    This last week he went out to fundraise for Planned Parenthood in one of the locations he had been giving a rest because it had been played out. He had no idea what he was getting himself into. People were flocking to him to give and to talk to him about the Komen fiasco. He was blown away by the response. These funds aren't yet recorded by Planned Parenthood I assume. So this represents money above and beyond the $3 million already known to be raised. So the wave of support for Planned Parenthood will most likely be sustained for at least another week and could well top $4 million. And I think this will be on top of their usual fundraising.

    Thanks to Karen Handel and Ari Fleisher for helping Planned Parenthood fundraising so effectively. You basically are likely to have raised some $2 million each for Planned Parenthood. That may make these two right wing fanatics the biggest fundraisers for Planned Parenthood this year.

    And I guarantee you, Komen will within a year find a way to cut all funding to Planned Parenthood. So I predict another bump in Planned Parenthood fundraising and anger at Komen's politicizing of breast cancer within a year's time.

    Donate to Planned Parenthood.

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