An opinion by
Maggie Karner, Director, LCMS Life and Health Ministries, and
Ed Szeto, Special Projects Coordinator, LCMS Life Ministries
Feb. 4, 2012
Updated Feb. 7, 2012
This past week was a firestorm of news reports, accusations, and public discussion regarding Susan G. Komen for the Cure® (Komen) and their support of Planned Parenthood. Komen is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women in the early detection of breast cancer and finding cures for breast cancer. It is important to understand what really happened and what this means for us as prolife Lutherans. The ties between Komen affiliates and Planned Parenthood affiliates have been acknowledged and reported on in the past. Why is this connection a bad thing? Simply put, Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the US. The grants given by Komen were to be used exclusively for breast cancer education and screening and not for abortions. However, there is legitimate concern with the integrity of these funds and their appropriate use because money can be fungible.
12/05/11 As far back as December, LifeSiteNews reported that Life Decisions International, a well respected prolife organization dedicated to exposing companies that support Planned Parenthood (and regularly provides a list of those companies), has removed Komen from its “dishonorable mention” portion of the list.
01/31/12 The news hits the mainstream media: An Associated Press article appearing in the Huffington Post reports that Planned Parenthood will no longer be eligible to receive grants from Komen. Leslie Aun, spokeswoman at Komen stated that the reason is that “newly adopted criteria [bars] grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. According to Komen, this applies to Planned Parenthood because it’s the focus of an inquiry launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., seeking to determine whether public money was improperly spent on abortions.”
The article also reported that “Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties … received a Komen grant for 2011 and was able to obtain an additional grant of $120,000 for 2012 by signing the deal … just before Komen’s new criteria took effect. Under the criteria, no further grants will be allowed unless the pending House inquiry is resolved in Planned Parenthood’s favor.”
02/01/12 Komen responds to the growing liberal media backlash by issuing a statement: “we made the decision to implement stronger performance criteria for our grantees to minimize duplication and free up dollars for direct services to help vulnerable women. To support this new granting strategy, Komen has also implemented more stringent eligibility standards to safeguard donor dollars. Consequently, some organizations are no longer eligible to receive Komen grants.”
02/01/12 Nancy Brinker, Founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® created a YouTube video explaining why “any number of long-standing partners” will be affected.
- “recently implemented new granting strategies and criteria”
- “highest responsibility to ensure that these donor dollars make the biggest impact possible”
- “Starting in 2010, I initiated the comprehensive review of grants and standards”
- “We want to grant to the provider that is actually providing the life-saving mammograms”
- “more stringent eligibility and performance criteria to support these new strategies”
- “not pulling any existing grants…current grants are not affected”
- “As we move forward, we will implement these new strategies which will allow us to serve more women.”
02/02/12 Nancy Brinker, on an interview on MSNBC, stated that one of the problems with Planned Parenthood is that they don’t provide cancer screenings (i.e. mammograms) but only refer the patients to other clinics. In the same interview, Brinker acknowledged that the existing grants to Planned Parenthood “will go on this year, and they will probably be eligible for the next grant cycle.”
It should be noted that the prolife group Live Action had previously documented that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms. In reaction to this investigation, Komen itself acknowledged that it was aware that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms.
02/03/12 Komen releases a statement that many news outlets called a reversal.
- “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.”
- “We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”
- “We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.”
A Reversal in Plans?
Many prolife Lutherans are concerned that there was an apparent reversal on Komen’s new criteria. As a granting organization, LCMS World Relief and Human Care understands Komen’s attempt to tighten their granting procedures and focus donor dollars where they will be most effective to accomplish their mission. Poorly executed and monitored granting procedures minimize the effect of a charity and erodes the trust of both donors and of the grantees. . From that perspective, most charities can empathize with Komen.
A periodic review of granting criteria and procedures is prudent for granters that value every donor dollar and to be good stewards with God’s gifts. In the economic condition which we face today, all granters would want to ensure that they only support other organizations that share the same goals and who focus carefully on the mission of the granter.
Since Komen did not release publicly what the new eligibility standards and selection criteria are, we can only rely on what was reported in the media and from Komen’s statements. Apparently, the change in the Komen-Planned Parenthood relationship was triggered by the on-going Congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood and the fact that they were not direct providers of “life-saving mammograms.”
Was there a reversal by Komen as many media outlets, both mainstream and prolife, claimed? The wording in the February 3 statement is not conclusive. The clarification that the “disqualifying investigations must be criminal” should still prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving funds due to several ongoing criminal investigations of the organization: e.g. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast falsifying Medicaid documents, and an ongoing investigation into the shredding of evidence by Planned Parenthood and/or the office of former Governor Kathleen Sebelius (currently the Secretary of Health and Human Services) in a case against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
Does the statement that Komen “will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities” constitute a reversal? Brinker stated in her February 1 video that the current grants would be honored, so that was not a change. Additionally, anyone is allowed to apply for a grant from any granting organization. The key to receiving a grant depends upon an applicant’s ability to meet the granter’s standards of “eligibility and performance criteria.” As for the statement that the affiliates of Komen would make decisions regarding grant approvals, it is certainly hoped that the affiliates would abide by the rules of the overarching organization under whose name and reputation they reside.
Should prolife Lutherans support Susan G. Komen for the Cure®? We believe a “wait and see” attitude is warranted. As we are aware of several grants awarded to Planned Parenthood prior to the change in the selection criteria, we need to be diligent to see if Komen administers new grants according to its self-stated criteria. Komen’s actions in the future will demonstrate whether it was sincere in creating these new criteria.
The Key Lesson
The important thing to highlight in this rather confusing story is the very-public demonstration of Planned Parenthood’s methodology for destroying anyone or anything that stands in the way of its funding stream. Planned Parenthood is a pro-abortion, politically-connected machine dedicated to a scorched earth policy against those that threaten its agenda, an agenda that kills nearly 330,000 babies every year through abortion in its facilities. What Planned Parenthood did this week was unleash its multi-million dollar fury and political might against a group wholly unprepared for such an attack. Like a wood tick that won’t let go of its host, Planned Parenthood grabs onto its funding organizations and never lets go. Planned Parenthood has made it clear that any other organization that doesn’t bend to its agenda will suffer the consequences of the Planned Parenthood public relations smear and the blistering wrath of its socially-networked supporters. And, quite frankly, this nasty tactic was well strategized and executed for maximum public relations gain. Whether Planned Parenthood strategically engineered the initial campaign against Komen to garner over $3 million in newfound donations is a case for every individual to decide.
What are Lutherans to Think?
As pro-life Lutherans, what are we to think of current public opinion and the effect of the national media? We should only regret we could not have done more to make Komen strong and able to fight off controlling, heavy-handed pressure from Planned Parenthood. But more than that, we have seen that the forces of an evil worldview are focused and strategically targeted at our Biblical and moral beliefs. It’s a scary world with which we are asked to engage.
We’ve seen in this ugly media-driven story that Satan can disguise himself in many “socially conscious” ways…this time he disguised himself as support for the abstract and misleading concept of “women’s health.” Even the apostle John warned of the need to be discerning when it comes to the world’s messaging; “They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”(—1 John 4:5-6) But this is nothing new. Jesus Himself said “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (–Matthew 10:16) But this same Jesus brings consolation when He says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (–John 16:33)
For in Christ, we have the love of a Savior who proclaims the unwavering truth, understands our fears, carries our sorrows, brings us strength, and sustains our faith for the long haul—even when our belief is “controversial” and unpopular with society. And His love is not just for us, but intended as a gift for all—for us to carry out into a lost, hurting and very confused world. He has given us the gift of eternal peace among times of disillusionment, and salvation when all seems hopeless, so that we can go out and share that peace with others who so desperately need it…with mercy forever.