What did we learn from the Komen-PP fiasco?

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It has been deeply revealing and we have learned much.

First of all, that the relationship existed. After all the years of doubt or uncertainty by many contributors to the Pink Ribbon campaign over whether the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure donated some of those funds to Planned Parenthood, it’s all out there now. So there will never be another Pink October or any other fundraising campaign in which ubiquitous pink ribbons  and the Komen logo of the breast cancer awareness giant will not be associated with Planned Parenthood, the abortion giant.

Second, we saw the full weight of Planned Parenthood’s power and fury. On a hair trigger, they and their supporters fired off relentless rounds of volleys through a vast social media network. And they either pressured or cajoled nearly two dozen US senators to leap into the fire and lobby on their behalf, all on practically no notice.

Senators Frank Lautenberg, Patty Murray and 20 other Democrats have prepared a letter, obtained by Reuters, saying Komen’s move “threatens to reduce access to necessary, life-savings services. We urge Komen to reconsider its decision.”

They certainly didn’t take the time to research the veracity of their claim about access and services, and anything else pertaining to the truth of the matter.

“It would be tragic if any woman, let alone thousands of women, lost access to these potentially life-saving screenings because of a politically motivated attack,” said the letter, which was due to be sent later on Thursday.

It all worked, and fast, which is a big lesson for the pro-life movement. Whatever else Planned Parenthood is, it is highly successful in everything it does nationally, at the local level and highest levels of government obviously up to the White House itself. And it is highly successful as a force to be reckoned with because it is relentless in applying pressure and mobilizing rapid response forces that frame a message, make it go viral and then make it stick. They make it clear that there will be consequences to non-compliance with their demands, and they follow through.

This, with another tenor but no less tenacity, is a model for the pro-life or any movement to notice and consider. Leave aside PP’s bullying for another post…

Social activism can change policies and laws when people unite behind a cause with a fervent commitment, make a clear statement meant to ‘stick’, mobilize a network through social media, make a sustained effort to make the message go viral, and refuse to go away or back down. And make it clear there will be consequences to the response or lack of one.

The movement should be unapologetically forceful, but unassailably positive and relentlessly determined. And it helps when it’s an election year.

One thought on “What did we learn from the Komen-PP fiasco?

  1. Look, I don’t know where to start, but let me just say, that the overwhelming response to the initial Komen decision was a gut wrenching cry from many of America’s women – right, left, in-between, cancer patients/survivors and those who have not personally been touched by this horrible disease.

    No pressure, no initial email campaign, no internet campaign, just the NEWS that Komen made its funding decision caused much of the initial outcry. It’s probably no surprise, but I am a political activist. What may be a surprise is that I got calls and emails from my friends – breast cancer survivors among them – from all sides of the political spectrum. All, UNIFORMLY were opposed to and outraged by Komen’s actions.

    What I have heard, repeatedly, from sources on the political right (yes, I do listen and read those sources) is pressure on KOMEN to stop donating to Planned Parenthood. That, coupled with the revelations of the political connections of the Komen leadership is what helped contribute to the outrage once the story gained traction.

    Basically, most women are not pro-abortion. Most women, however, demand the right to control their own bodies and their own destinies. Anything that smacks of an offense against these rights creates the firestorm we just witnessed. Would I have an abortion? I don’t know. Would I defend the right of a woman who fetl this was the best decision for her to have one. You bet and I will continue to do so.

    This outrage was not necessarily a response to abortion, however. Women are outraged at the politicization of our bodies. Planned Parenthood provides a much needed service to underserved women in this country. Anything that attacks this service will be staunchly fought by women in this country. Komen is the just recipient of our anger.

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