Blog Post

Komen Still Suffering from Planned Parenthood Fallout

Months after national charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure (SGK), flip-flopped on its decision to cut funds to Planned Parenthood, the organization is still suffering from the fallout.

USA Today is reporting that participation in marches across the country are down. For instance, The Central Indiana SGK registered 30 percent fewer people in this year's Race for the Cure with attendance dropping from 37,500 last year to just 23,000 today. Southern Arizona's race drew just 7,200 participants this year compared to 10,000 last year. The Southwest Florida race brought in more than $1 million last year, but only $850,000 this year. SGK of Greater New York City decided to postpone its annual gundraising gala because executives "were not certain about our ability to fundraise in the near term," spokesperson Vern Calhoun said in a statement.

Why are so many people suddenly shying away from SGK? Gillian Drummond, a spokeswoman for the Southern Arizona affiliate blamed the organization's disastrous foray into abortion politics when it decided to restore funding to Planned Parenthood only three days after if officially cut off those funds in late January of this year.

"We had a community that was glued together," Dummond said. " . . . (S)uddenly overnight, politics divided them."

Komen doesn't deny the problems that remain in the wake of the controversy.

"The issues (relating to Planned Parenthood) have certainly had an impact (on some races), there's no getting around that," said Leslie Aun, a national spokeswoman for Komen, though she said economic pressures have also played a part.

However, decreases in fundraising revenues are only part of the problem. SGK has also suffered the loss of several high-ranking executives who left the company in the aftermath of the crisis. The departures include three officials from Komen's Dallas headquartesr as well as CEO's of affiliate groups in Oregon and New York City. The chairman of the foundation, Dr. Lasalle G. Lefall, Jr., also stepped down although he will remain on the board.

With the exception of Karen Handel, SGK's vice president for public affairs, whose pro-life position was blamed as the reason why the organization cut Planned Parenthood funding in the first place, none of the other resigning executives specifically cited the controversy as their reason for leaving. The only one who even intimated that the controversy might be to blame was Chris McDonald, executive director and chief executive of SGK's Oregon and southwest Washington affiliate. McDonald, who supported restoration of funds to Planned Parenthood, said her decision to leave at the end of this month was predicated by the actions of the national headquarters.

The mood inside SGK is not good. An unnamed Komen insider told HuffPost last month that "employee morale is in the toilet" and that SGK founder Nancy Brinker is "in complete meltdown. People want her to resign but she won't."

In the meantime, Komen continues to direct funds to Planned Parenthood. According to the Washington Post, at least 17 Planned Parenthood affiliates will receive funds from SGK this year, about the same number as last year. In 2011, Komen granted more than $680,000 million to the abortion giant for its breast-screening services, which do not include mammograms.

Even though much of the media frenzy surrounding the organization's handling of the crisis has subsided, the loss of funds, the resignation of so many senior executives, and signs of discontent within the ranks of SGK show that the charity is still very much in turmoil.

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