First, the backoff happened with head-spinning swiftness. Second, it’s still unclear what the statement by the breast cancer awareness foundation really meant.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation has reversed its decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and apologized “to the American public” for its handling of the issue.
A statement from founder and CEO Nancy Brinker and the Susan G. Komen Board of Directors says the foundation will immediately get in touch with its network and key supporters “to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work.”
“The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen,” the statement says.
“We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.”
Komen touched off an uproar by announcing that it had adopted criteria excluding Planned Parenthood from grants because it was under government investigation, notably a probe launched in Congress at the urging of anti-abortion groups.
They leave aside the reasons for those investigations, as most articles did, which is a glaring omission. Congress and state governing bodies don’t enter into these things frivolously, especially when it comes to Planned Parenthood.
In its statement, Komen now says it will change the criteria so it won’t apply to such investigations.
“We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants,” the statement says.
It was a desperate measure to batten down the hatches against the storm.
But officials across the organization said they were still reeling from the fallout of what many described as a public relations fiasco created by Komen’s leadership.
“I felt like we were eaten alive,” said Logan Hood, executive director of Komen’s Aspen affiliate in Colorado. “We had no advance warning..?.?. We were sent into battle without armor.”
And they were criticized for that, too.
The situation has been a “total embarrassment” for Komen, said Tom Madden, chief executive of TransMedia Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based public relations ad crisis management company. “There should have been a lot of thought through that kind of decision, and it sounds to me like the ramifications and pressures they were under were not anticipated, which was a failure of planning. I can’t believe an organization like Komen wasn’t aware of what was going on.”
Reversing themselves is a sign that Komen is not a “thoughtful, contemplative organization,” Madden added. “This does not strike a chord that this is an organization that knows where it’s going and what it’s doing.”
Komen may have alienated both supporters and detractors in switching its position, Madden said. “They should have anticipated that,” he said. “Anticipation is a big part of crisis management. If you’re going to avoid a crisis, you have to vividly plan for it.”…
“I don’t think there’s been any permanent damage,” Madden said. “I think there’s going to be some anger on both sides, but that will dissipate eventually. The organization at its heart is very worthwhile. However, they must take aggressive action to really do a thorough and transparent analysis of what is best for women with breast cancer.”
Yes. Which begins with understanding some of the causes can be prevented.