Politics & Policy

A Pink Ribbon for the Win

Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

So twisted are the Left’s conceptions of life and law, conscience and the Constitution, that many in their quarter praise a federal mandate that would force private religious organizations to facilitate the distribution of contraceptives, even as they condemn the decision by the secular, apolitical Susan G. Komen for the Cure to disentangle itself from abortion mega-provider Planned Parenthood.

Early reports suggested Komen decided to break ties with Planned Parenthood because the latter runs afoul of a recently adopted in-house rule barring grants for any organization under government investigation. While this sounds like a perfectly sensible rule to us, Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker has made clear that the defunding decision was in fact made for still more practical reasons. In a new video aimed at responding to the on-cue hysterics of the militantly “pro-choice” and their adjuncts, Brinker avers that the decision came as a result of  “a comprehensive review of our grants and standards” begun in 2010, part of an effort to “eliminate duplicative grants, freeing up more dollars for higher impact programs,” including such programs that are “actually providing the lifesaving mammogram.”

#ad#“Actually” is the operative word here as, contra the carefully-worded spin, Planned Parenthood gives only basic breast cancer screenings (the same examination health experts advocate women perform on themselves) and is not a major provider of mammograms. Instead, Planned Parenthood merely refers women to third parties who provide that service — the very providers who presumably stand to benefit from Komen’s decision to retarget its money.

But whatever the reasons behind the foundation’s decision, its worldly effect is clear: This is a win for the forces for life, and a major blow to Planned Parenthood. Komen, the architect of the pink-ribbon campaign, is a prominent face of women’s health in America, and as mainstream a charitable organization as there is. That it should feel the need to decouple itself from Planned Parenthood is a sign that the pro-life fight is shifting to more favorable ground. Since it emerged as a political lightning rod, Planned Parenthood has worked diligently to associate itself with contraception and cancer screening, non-controversial and positive things in the minds of most Americans. In fact, for at least two decades the whole of the abortion lobby has been largely unwilling to openly defend abortion. From the Orwellian denuding of the abbreviation NARAL — which used to stand for the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws and now, as a matter of official policy, stands for literally nothing — to the oft-repeated distortion that Planned Parenthood, as the provider of more than 300,000 abortions per year, is somehow not principally in the business of abortion. The right to “choose” has become the right that dare not speak its name.

The Komen foundation’s maneuver destabilizes these fictions. Drawing attention to Planned Parenthood’s incidental connection to mammography helps brighten the line between women’s health and abortion, and by that virtue undermines the very argument Planned Parenthood’s partisans trot out whenever a source of funding is threatened: that any defunding will harm women. Planned Parenthood is a $1 billion-per-year enterprise, Komen’s annual budget approaches $100 million. The discontinuing of some $600,000 in grants from the latter to the former will not mean a mass of women go unscreened. Nor, sadly, will it disrupt Planned Parenthood’s provision of abortion. But it will mean we are one step closer to a world in which donors concerned with women’s health, and those concerned with expanding access to abortion, will each get what they paid for. 

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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