Jonathan Wolfman's Blog

Jonathan Wolfman

Jonathan Wolfman
Maryland, Northwest of The District,
January 26
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FEBRUARY 2, 2012 7:21AM

Subtle Eugenics & The Susan G. Komen Pattern of Cowardice

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     The Right-Wing War on working-class women and Planned Parenthood has gone this far:  a bullying campaign by an anti-abortion congressman ostensibly directed at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization has resulted in the shut-down of more than a fifth of Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screening/education programs. Those programs have served over 770,000 (mostly working-poor) women by providing breast exams, mammograms, and other diagnostic services.
    The congressman, Florida's Cliff Stearns, pushed Komen to adopt a new rule:  no support for any non-profit under investigation at any level of government, local, regional, or national. The rule is new as of December, 2011, and, of course, was promoted by Republican congressmen who have begun to look into Planned Parenthood's finances even though there's no reason to believe that Planned Parenthood's books aren't in order. The real issue, of course, is that three percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides include abortion.
    What's notable here is that Mr. Stearns and his fellow bullies have gone well beyond demanding that government stop helping Planned Parenthood's clients in any way--the bullying now has pressured one private women's health organization (Komen) into throwing over another private women's health organization (Planned Parenthood).
     The precedent is vile:  misogynist congressional zealots now have real hope that they may cripple any women's health non-profit--or any other organization they dislike--by bullying organizations into adopting the rule either before or after announcing an investigation whose purported merit they know is, at best, specious.
     The precedent also means that organizations will be pressured to adopt the rule before investigations yield results, subverting our connsciences and constitution. The rule turns on its head the idea that guilt must be proved prior to sanction.
    Until last December when pressure on Komen ramped up, according to Pam Belluck in Wednesday's New York Times, the two organizations had enjoyed a year-over-year history of cooperation. Last year Planned Parenthood received just under three quarters of a million dollars in grants from Komen, an amount reflecting Komen's typical  support. When the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, was blind-sided with Komen's decision, she asked for and was refused a meeting with Komen's administrators, the same people with whom she'd thought she had built mutual trust and respect. All Komen will say is that it has "implemented more stringent eligibility and performance criteria", language that implies, of course, that (of a sudden) it now believes Planned Parenthood is not trustworthy.
     Planned Parenthood believes what seems inescapable, that, as Ms. Richards holds, Komen's new rule "was written specifically to address the political pressure that they've been under." She believes what appears to be clear:  Komen has buckled in the face of what she calls bullying "by right-wing groups." This, of course, will leave hundreds of thousands of low-income, working women and girls across our country without breast cancer screening and health educational services. Many of these people will, of course, suffer and die if no other non-profit takes over.
     We should be mindful, too, of this:  several years back Komen sponsored a breast cancer symposium in Egypt despite the fact that Israeli specialists, originally invited to the event with Cairo's knowledge, were then barred from participating and with Komen's consent. Komen-cowardice in the face of bullying may well be a pattern.
     Aside from Komen's disgraceful, weak-kneed response to our own political thugs, there's a larger issue here. Anti-abortion fanatics are willing to endanger women and girls, particularly working-class and very poor ones, in the service of a frenzied ideology which knows no measure or balance, nor one that has any desire to know any.
     The celebrated historian, Hannah Arendt, in her seminal work (Eichmann in Jerusalem), speaking to the effectiveness of S.S. bullies in southern France, showed beyond any doubt that the Jewish town leaders who, when Nazis demanded lists of Jewish residents, essentially told the bullies to go to hell, did not those towns Jews' survival rates quadrupled and quintupled Jews' survival rates in the towns where Jewish leaders did cooperate. The S.S. kept records. Far, far fewer Jews were sent to the camps from those towns where Jewish leaders said "No." For Komen the sakes were far less and yet it knuckled under...again, and swiftly.
     Komen has chosen to bend to bullies, to become effectively complicit in a subtle, depraved new stab at eugenics.
     The only winning is saying "No".

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I very much appreciate the other posts that have already appeared on the topic and I hope this adds a somewhat new take.

Interested very much in yours.
The right has spun it's magic again and it disgusts me. The Komen Foundation should know better.

Buddy honestly it's a disgrace.
Jonathan, thanks for this informative post! My guess is the Komen foundation would not bow to huge pressure coming from the opposite direction and reinstate the funding. They only respond to bullies of the type of which Rep. Stearns is a card carrying member.

When politicians start telling private organizations how to spend their money how does that equate with the general slogans of the Republican party that 'big' government needs to leave people alone. Of course, we know they only meant CERTAIN people like themselves, their campaign contributors, friends, and relatives. Once again we are reminded of the hypocrisy that goes on in this country, day after day, is of titanic proportions!
As Thomas Jefferson observed, one of the joys of having a government big enough to grant all your wants, is that it is also capable of destroying you. I don't approve of "government Bullying" at any level or in any form, Republican or Democrat. Maybe we need to re-affirm some of those checks and balances that are so easily dismissed as "Too Slow" when your side is in power. The other side looks to stand a good chance of taking over this fall. ( In Big Government MY side is anyone who seeks to limit it- that does not include the Republicans) It might be a good time to stop setting precedents of Presidential ( and congressional ) bullying for everyone at all times, not just when you see your Ox being gored. Yes, it is EVIL, ( Not because I support abortion, but because it is none of my or the government's business ) but why call a foul now, this is just "federal " government as usual and quite mild compared to, say, the health care plan to put private insurers out of business.
But...but maybe Gawd really is on their side! Ya think? burp
Jon, this flies in the face of reason. Komen's purpose was to help women of all classes. I think...that it's greater good might be weighed here. A slap yes...condemnation..hmmmmm. I'd like to see a break down of "where" its funds go and to whom. Admittedly shameful...
however, I think there may be some other reasons...It's charter may dictate under what circumstances, grants may be given.

As for the misogynist congressmen? They love long as they are wearing plastic wrap. Southern men in particular do not appreciate opinionated "ladies".
Ande there is no charter-provision as to SGK that would have dictated this move; it's cowardice.
Ande---I could cut SGK some slack were this the first time; the Egyptian conference knuckle-under, added to this, tells me this is more likely who the board really is.
I expect that you have a better grasp on this than I do. Your points are well taken.
Ande I always appreciate your take on events. Trust me when I say that I'd not have been deliberately condemning in tone were it not for the earlier incident.
As a now former supporter of the organization, I will be looking for a new channel for my charity... Having had a sister who had breast cancer, before dying of ovarian cancer, I have been personally touched by this insidious decease. That Komen has lost the will to do what's right goes against all matters of decency... Planned parenthood is an important organization caring for millions of people, whom the government has ignored or has marginalized...
Komen deserves to be shut down, with a new honest and strong organizing rising to take it's place....
Ray thank you for your very personal take on this.
Bravo JW. The Komen decision is disgraceful and, given their ostensible concerns, hypocritical. Thanks too for pointing out the political forces behind the decision.
Jon, I understand your outrage, but the board of the Komen Foundation can do whatever it pleases. Don't support the Komen foundation. I never have.
Abra thanks so much for commenting today. :)
OE of course it can do what it likes. But the question raised here is Is it doing what IT likes, or is it doing OTHERS' bidding out of weak-kneed fear.
The fact that they have pitted sister against sister is outraging me, and I, too, know many who will not walk or run for the cause in protest against Komen's cowardice. It's a patheticly sad comment on how limited resources are that one sister starves another to live.
It makes me angry, but in the moment, saddened...
I don't see any mention of Komen's recent hiring of Karen Handel as VP. She is a former Republican gubernatorial candidate. One of her pledges was to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

The hiring and the ne policy seem to be more than coincidence.
Mark thanks very much for this information.
N o, abortion fans, cowardice is the pro-abortion crowd disguising what they do as "women's health" or "reproductive rights". And if abortion is only 3% of PP's business, why not spin it off to a less red-flagged part of the racket? Anyone who says"it is a woman's own body" probably flunked high school biology.
Since OB first posted this, I've been reading up on them and the more I read, the less I like. Thanks for adding to my knowledge.We'll be seeing some resignations soon I think!
rrb ok; I'm content to disagree w you and thank you for your comment.
Scanner that may be too much to hope for. :)
Good post. Seems as if Komen's action has backfired against them, in the form of public reaction, pledges to not support the foundation, and the fact that Planned Parenthood raised some $400,000 U.S. on Feb. 1 alone.

Sometimes unworthy deeds do not go unpunished.
Mary thanks...and I am pleased to hear of the new contribs to P.P.
It makes me sick to my stomach to read this about a treacherous,illminded,buckling person with influence beyond measure.
Jonathan,can you place this into a paper that has access to the poor so they KNOW what they are in for when they vote for the republicans?
As the saying goes:The devil is a squirrel
Oh,I forgot:
thank you for mentioning Hannah Ahrendt,
rated as a voice for the poor.
Heidi That is a good idea. I'll think on where it might do some good in the way you suggest.
Heidi everyone needs to read Arendt! Yes!
Yes,indeed.I need to get a copy myself.
Performance criteria for Komen- do not allow women to have abortions or do what is right for them.

Disgusting Jon..

Read & rated. Coments left at FB. grrrrrrrrrrrrr
B. and they were terrific comments, too! Thanks!
I have no investment in the Koman foundation as I dislike it for the ratio of actual funds to the cause and administration costs. When I noted this several years back, I told my girlfriend, a cancer survivor who participated in their 'walks' (which is how I had begun to fund them). She insisted that all organizations did things like this and it was a feel good thing for her to do.I did not criticize her as a survivor, but no longer put money to her "team". We are still friends. My purpose in not participating was my experience with many non profits and their causes and how the administration can be top heavy and incorrectly managing funds. I also had some experiences with the Red Cross shortly after their fall from grace and had some intimate knowledge of the attempted cover up policies and continued practices that got them in trouble in the first place.

My personality does not allow me to participate in things like this. I am sorry for Planned Parenthood, but perhaps more sorry for the women this affects and even more sorry that it appears that Planned Parenthood was aware of this impending decision some time ago based on signals from Komen and did nothing to prepare to replace the funding. This decision did not happen in a vacuum the writing was on the wall.

Don't misunderstand. I completely support Planned Parenthood, and they have been dodging numerous bullets lately. The problem is always the shortage of funds and the need for services. If we have nationalized healthcare, we would perhaps not even need a planned parenthood organization as women could access all they provide through their entitled insurance.
Jon, by the way, an interesting take on this latest conservative attack.
Sheila Thanks...and yet P.P. has said it was blind-sided. I'm taking its word on that, I suppose. You make many really good points, friend.
You're very welcome, Jon. I just wish these cowards were capable of walking in the shoes of women who will suffer needlessly while the BRAC's "Walk for the Cure" becomes known as "Dance of the Demons"...
"Yet when the news broke Tuesday that Komen was ending its funding for Planned Parenthood breast cancer screenings and services, the organization’s eagerness to throw Planned Parenthood – and the women who depend upon it – under the bus wasn’t surprising. It’s actually thoroughly unshocking for this venerated organization to pull such a crass, insensitive move." Mary Elizabeth Williams in Salon

"Last year, Komen provided $680,000 to Planned Parenthood. In 2010, when Handel wrote in a campaign blog that she “did not support the mission of Planned Parenthood” and planned to end state-sanctioned aid if elected, the foundation gave an additional $580,000. Handel’s campaign flamed out and she joined Komen last year.
Alongside her now is abortion foe Jane Abraham, board member at The Nurturing Network, a so-called “crisis pregnancy” organization dedicated to dissuading young, pregnant women from having abortions. Maureen Scalia, a noted anti-abortion advocate and wife of the conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, sits on the TNN board with Abraham." ABC news Gregory Krieg

Jon, as a fund development specialist, it is obvious that PP must have been paying some attention to this at their leadership level, otherwise I fault their leadership. The switch did not simply get flipped the other day with no movement in the background. I am sure that you could find people off the record who would confirm that on both sides. The advantage to ignorance in this case, or to play it that way by PP was to take advantage of any shock value and outrage it could to show the ignorance of the right on this decision and to attempt to drive donations, which I understand it has; to the tune of almost half a million in one day.
After my oldest sister lost a breast to cancer, one of my younger sisters and her daughter began taking part in the fundraising walks for Komen. They hit me up for a donation and I did what any good sister/aunt would do. I was good for $50 each year for a decade. This year we will all be supporting planned parenthood.
I wonder if Komen will replace the service by funding anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. Of course, the demographic may be a little different. Perhaps they will be required to have a pregnancy test and a vaginal ultrasound in order to qualify for a mammogram?

Women need to know that mammograms aren't very expensive and they can get one without a doctor's orders for cash pay if they need one. Interpreting it may be a different story, but if you don't have insurance, all things available for cash and putting that off until something kicks in won't save you the $$ that your time will waste. Any time suspicious results are found, they are dealt with right away. Incidentally, breast cancer screening (an exam during your annual pap visit) happens for most women- but not always and you need to ask. Yearly mammograms aren't started until 40, if no previous history of suspicious lumps) - the age when most women are no longer trying to get contraceptive services. Planned Parenthood provides health services to women of all ages.

JW- it seems their gig is up. Maybe they realize in all these years of research that most of the causes are aggravated by extensive environmental pollution by big oil, big pharmacy, big agriculture, big tobacco, big chemistry.... the much more powerful and persuasive lobbies in Congress today.
For all of the good that Komen may have done its board of directors seem more concerned with money than health. I'll find another place for those donations that the Komen Foundation may have gotten. If the opinion held by pro birth groups was as prevalent as they claim why do they go the back alley route when forcing their way on the rest of us?
Always love a good Arendt reference. Always felt that there was something not quite right about Komen. Sad when the Bullies win and they win a lot, I've learned.
Fernsy will be interesting to see what these reactions create.
bobot good question. Thank you.
Ori Thanks so much. Every one of your points hits home.
You do add a new take and commend you. I also agree with you 100%.
beauty I thoroughly understand.
Sheila Ok. Makes a great deal of sense what you're saying as to their being forewarned.
Razzle thanks very much. :)
My wife and I have been donating $200 a year to Komen. From now on that money will go directly to Planned Parenthood.
Frank makes sense to me. Thanks for stopping in. :)
And I say a resounding "NO NO NO And HELL NO" to the bullying of political thugs.

"The Republican Party believes in getting the government off people's backs." Well we know now beyond all doubt what a scurvy lie that is. The Republican Party that essentially tells me "Drop dead bitch" can drop dead itself.

In slightly better news, the more positive fallout from this is that the SGK foundation is being reamed up one side and down the other and is in full damage control mode, and that Planned Parenthood recieved hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, yesterday.

rated by one fuming feminist.
Shiral the donations to P.P. are terrif!
So, the huge line of Komen inspired products (think pink) glutting the market will be dust collectors in store basements. This while a large population of women, and men, will not be able to have breast cancer screening due to funding issues. Komen, whose name is a byword for Breast Cancer research, is getting technical at the risk and dangers to human life. I hope all the dimwits that pulled this injustice have clean mamograms

Adel P.P. will, no question, win.
Interesting that you compare these tactics to those of nazi Germany. I am shocked and saddened, but mostly - frustrated and frightened - by the Komen Foundation's decision! WHERE does the support for the right come from? It makes NO sense to me! They are clearly strong-arming brown shirts just looking for an opportunity to strap on the swastika! And Ms. Komen should be ashamed of herself - on too many levels to mention! Great post, again, Jonathan!
I read today that SGK backed down. However, given their track record and the proportion of funding vs admin costs, they will not get any $$$ from me. And I bet they will just think of some other backhanded way to defund PP.