Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Last night I found myself feeling deeply saddened by the scandal going on with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood. A brief synopsis, in case you're unfamiliar: Last week Komen announced that they would no longer provide grants for Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screening program. Public outrage ensued, and several days later Komen reversed the decision. The argument was deeply polarized and politicized. Pro-choice supporters of Komen jumped ship quickly, offering contributions to Planned Parenthood totaling $3 million in just four days. Pro-lifers felt they had been duped by Komen, who made a quick change in the face of opposition. Planned Parenthood was quick to cast blame, pointing fingers at conservatives for "bullying" Komen into the initial decision. This morning, Komen's Vice President of Public Policy, Karen Handel, resigned.  

When we look at the numbers, it just doesn't make sense. According to Planned Parenthood's annual report, in 2011 the organization provided 747,607 breast exams. They also terminated 329,445 pregnancies. The ratio comes to a little over 2:1. And emergency contraceptives? 1,461,816. (If you choose to include that, the breast cancer screening to pregnancy termination ratio comes to 1:2.4) Not to mention the longstanding controversy over the link between oral contraceptives and cancer. 

When we look at the actual data, it just doesn't make sense. Why would Komen and many other organizations align themselves with an organization whose goal is so drastically different from their own. The sad truth of the matter is that many organizations give money to Planned Parenthood, whether you realize it or not. Livestrong, March of Dimes... the list goes on and on. And although these gifts are often "designated grants," for cancer screenings, etc., it is naive to believe that in supporting the organization one is not indirectly increasing access to abortion for a young woman who is scared, overwhelmed, and facing the most difficult decision of her life. It is like buying an alcoholic's groceries so he can pay for his own beer. It is not only naive, but absurd. 

The facts are staggering, and the numbers can be overwhelming, but I pray that we never, ever let the issue of abortion become an argument about numbers. Because I know 1 woman, who had 2 kids, and after 4 years she realized she that she couldn't take care of them. Facing imprisonment for multiple felony offences, she decided to relinquish parental rights of her 4 year old daughter and her 2 year old son. And if she had never made this decision, I would never have come to know the brother and sister I love so much. She could have easily been persuaded to have an abortion. In fact, many might argue that it would have been the "smart," thing to do. If she had wandered into a Planned Parenthood, 15, pregnant looking for guidance, I am quite certain this story would end quite differently. After all, according to their annual report, Planned Parenthood only made 841 adoption referrals to outside agencies. 

Don't get caught up in the controversy, don't let something simple become complicated. Don't let this taint your view of the nonprofit sector and don't use it as an excuse to stop giving, stop supporting, and stop volunteering. This is a call to action. We must be informed. We must take a stand. There are so many amazing organizations out there that are strapped for cash and low on volunteers. They need people like you who are passionate about something, anything. So find one that is 100% mission-driven and get involved. 
[my crazy, blended, beautiful family.]



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