The Komen controversy: why “winning” still felt like a heartbreaking loss

Let’s start with a disclaimer: I’m pro-choice (but that’s NOT what this post is about) and a longtime donor/supporter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research. So when news broke about Komen pulling grants for Planned Parenthood – grants that funded breast cancer screenings for low-income women – I was among those who responded immediately with anger and disappointment. I was prepared to walk away from Komen for good.

The problem was, for the first time ever, I’d signed up for this year’s Michigan 3-Day Walk for Komen in August, and friends had just started to donate on my page when the Planned Parenthood news broke; so I felt compelled to keep my commitment as a final act of fealty. But how on earth was I going to motivate myself, I wondered, to raise the (considerable) money I needed when I felt like the organization just cold-cocked me, as well as many of the women they previously reached out to help?

Of course, as we all know now, Komen eventually reversed its decision, after days of heated debate and pushback, thus reinstating this year’s grants for Planned Parenthood. I marveled then at the power of the internet – how it seemingly sparked change in a short amount of time – and breathed a considerable sigh of relief for the women who relied on PP for health care.

I wouldn’t say, though, that I felt elated or satisfied. Not because I suspect that the fight isn’t over for good – I’m sure it’s not – but because I lost my innocence regarding an organization that had, for many years, had special, highly personal meaning for me. Continue reading