What happens when you cross Planned Parenthood

Over at Crisis Magazine, Austin Ruse has a fascinating article on what went on behind the scenes of last year’s very public, very ugly tussle between Planned Parenthood and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. He begins his story with the news that Komen founder Nancy Brinker was replaced as the foundation’s CEO last week:

It took a while but they finally got rid of her, the woman who watched her sister suffer and die from breast cancer, who dedicated her life to eradicating the disease, who created one of the most successful global health charities in the world. They removed her for the crime of trying to defund Planned Parenthood. She’s being replaced by a woman some say had a hand in developing Obamacare and who has never run a non-profit.

She was the last of the triumvirate who had the audacity to try and get Susan G. Komen for the Cure out of the culture wars around abortion.

Ruse, who is president of the Catholic think-tank C-FAM, was deeply involved in the process by which Komen disentangled itself from giving millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood (ostensibly for mammograms, which PP does not in reality provide but for which it does referrals). He also witnessed the enormous backlash against Komen when its break with the abortion provider became public—a decision Ruse claims was leaked to the press by Planned Parenthood.

What happened over the next 72 hours is well known. The AP story could not have been worse for Komen. The Komen spokesman had been directed to talk specifically and only about “pass through grants.” Instead she talked about the investigations against Planned Parenthood. This placed the issue directly into the camp of House Republicans. Even though many investigations were going on, including for criminal wrongdoing at the local and state level, the spokesman made it about nasty “anti-choice” Republicans going after women’s health in the House of Representatives. This became the opening salvo in the “war against women” narrative. So egregious was this mistake by Komen spokesman Leslie Aun that in her book Handel suggests Aun may have been working for Planned Parenthood all along.

Within hours, letters from House Democrats were released. Female Congressmen were all over television attacking Komen as doing the bidding of anti-woman and “anti-choice” Republican bullies. Big Komen donors announced they were pulling out. Big Komen donors, like Lance Armstrong, announced massive grants to Planned Parenthood. Komen executives announced their resignations. Corporations announced they were stepping back. Large Komen affiliates announced they were considering leaving Komen and setting up independently. Recall they were set up as independent charities and could do exactly that.

We were supposed to believe all of this happened over night after the AP story appeared on Wednesday, February 1. In fact, the take-down of Komen was weeks in the making.

Over those few days the handful of Komen insiders were hunkered down in a glass-walled room at Komen’s DC headquarters. Someone present in the glass room told me he had many times participated in real national security crises in the White House, but that he had never experienced anything like the unrelenting attack on the people in that little room over those few days. Each minute brought new aspects to the crisis, new attacks. It was simply nonstop.

At one point I organized an effort by pro-lifer leaders to get Nancy Brinker to keep her resolve.  On Friday morning, dozens of bouquets of flowers arrived one by one into that glassed-in room, including one massive bouquet of four-dozen long-stemmed red roses. Each carried notes of encouragement and prayers. Brinker read each of them one-by-one. What we did not know at the time was that Brinker and her colleagues had already decided to reverse themselves and resume funding to Planned Parenthood.

Ruse points out that for Planned Parenthood, this could not have been about the money: “The Komen grants of a few million dollars were a tiny drop in Planned Parenthood’s billion dollar bucket and the amount was immediately replaced by other donors.” So why the enormous media onslaught directed at taking down their former friends at Komen? “To some abortion is a sacrament and all heretics to that orthodoxy are to be burned at the stake.”

Read the whole article here.

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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.