The Madeleine Brand Show for February 3, 2012

Post-Planned Parenthood, stem cell research may be Komen's next controversy

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Kevork Djansezian/ Getty Images

Offices of Planned Parenthood in Burbank, Calif.

In the aftermath of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation’s decision to restore funding to Planned Parenthood, CEO Nancy Brinker released a statement saying the move was not political. The Atlantic’s national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg disagrees.

Goldberg, who has been scoring scoops on the story, says Komen devised a way to cut off Planned Parenthood funding for breast cancer screening without openly stating they were rescinding support because they also provide abortions. Komen decided that any organization under investigation by any government body is precluded from getting funds, Goldberg said.

“Here’s an organization that funds about 2,000 groups. How many groups fall under this new rule? One — Planned Parenthood. They could have also just issued a rule saying ‘We’re not going to fund any organizations that start with the letter ‘P,’ he said. “It would have been slightly more illogical, but not that much.”

What they miscalculated was the intensity of the nationwide backlash, he said. Komen’s head of grant-making procedures Molly Williams resigned in protest, 26 senators sent letters and all seven Komen affiliates in California reacted negatively.

“It happens with very strong brands. Remember the horror at new Coke? ‘Wait a second, you can’t change who you are,’” Goldberg said. “And that’s what the people who support Komen all these years were sort of struck by in the last couple of days: ‘You can’t change your essence. And your essence is you provide these services and you’re pro-women.’”

Late last year, Komen decided to cut $12 million from funding for embryonic stem cell research, gradually pushing off organizations that were using stem cells. Goldberg said it may also be politically motivated.

"Let's not forget that this organization is surrounded by a person, Nancy Brinker, who is a major Republican donor, she’s been a major figure in the Republican Party. Their new senior vice president for public policy was an anti-abortion candidate for the governorship of Georgia,” he said. "It's become clear ... that this organization, or at least some of its leaders, lean a certain direction."

Goldberg said he thinks the focus will shift from Planned Parenthood to the issue of stem cell research.

Guest:

Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, joins the show.

You can read the full statement on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure's decision to restore funding to Planned Parenthood here.


With contributions by Andrea Wang

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