Erin Ryan at Jezebel put together a brief outline of the Susan Komen Race for the Cure public relations disaster over the past week:
We reported that the timing of Planned Parenthood's defunding seemed oddly coincidental, seeing as less than a year ago, Komen appointed a woman named Karen Handel to serve as the charity's Senior Vice President of Public Policy. Handel had run unsuccessful for governor of Georgia in 2010 on an anti-choice platform that cited as one of its central tenets the necessity of defunding Planned Parenthood. Could the defunding of Planned Parenthood have been a political move forced by external anti-choice voices as well as Komen's own personnel?
On Thursday, Joseph Goldberg at The Atlantic reported that according to sources inside Komen, Karen Handel was indeed behind the curiously recent "rule change" that led to Planned Parenthood's defunding, and that when the rule was put on the books in December, it upset one high-level Komen employee so much that she resigned in protest.
People's initial reaction—Komen bowed to pro-life pressure—has given way to the uncomfortable realization that Komen was the pro-life pressure. It's sad, really. But Komen isn't the only organization fighting breast cancer. New Jersey reporter Kathleen O'Brien came up with three local alternatives (who don't have prominent Republicans as CEOs) in just a few minutes: The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, Friend 2 Friend/Sussex County (N.J.) Women's Forum, and Operation Bling.
As one commenter at Jezebel wrote, "In all honesty, I'm sort of weirdly glad that all this happened, because finally I won't have people being all "WHY DO YOU HATE THIS CHARITY OBVIOUSLY YOU LOVE BREAST CANCER YOU HEARTLESS WITCH" whenever I state that I think Susan G. Komen is a bloated money-making machine that's focused more on selling pink crap and creating this simultaneously sanitized and sexualized image of breast cancer than actually helping women."
Harsh, perhaps, but Komen's complete mishandling of this event, orchestrated in part by former George W. Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, of all people, may have politicized the organization into irrelevance. Let's see what happens to pink ribbons over the next few months.