Susan G. Komen’s race to cure the organization’s battered public image is on. For a little over a week, the organization has been losing a public battle in the court of public opinion regarding their initial decision barring Planned Parenthood from applying for future grants due to an ongoing investigation and then their swift reversal.
The timeline of events follows:
April 2011– Karen Handel, who recently lost the Georgia governor race, was hired by Susan G. Komen as senior vice president for public policy. Handel describes herself on her Twitter headline as a “Lifelong Conservative Republican formerly Georgia’s first Republican Secretary of State.” During her campaign, she mentioned in interviews her being pro-choice and not supporting Planned Parenthood.
September 29, 2011– Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns notifies Planned Parenthood of a Congressional investigation into whether the group has illegally funded abortions with federal money
January 31, 2012– News breaks that Komen’s new grant policies bar the organization from funding groups under investigation. They announce that they will defund Planned Parenthood. A pro-life vs. pro-choice debate immediately begins on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the blogsphere as well as sentiment that SGK’s decision would negatively impact low-income and minority women. Critics point to the organizations continued funding of Penn State, currently under investigation, as proof of SGK playing politics. Thousands of Facebook users communicate their outrage or support on SGK’s Facebook page. Many long-time supporters of SGK state that they will no longer give to the charity or will opt to give to Planned Parenthood funds normally given to SGK.
February 1, 2012– Planned Parenthood announced that they rose over $650,000 in 24 hours from more than 6000 donors. The organization normally received 100-200 donations per day.
February 2, 2012– The SGK website was hacked at 12:30 AM EST to read “Help us run over poor women on our way to the bank”. Later that day, Moveon.org circulates an image, supposedly a screen shot of Karen Handel’s Twitter profile, in which she retweets the following message from user @JadeMorey “Just like a pro-abortion group to turn a cancer orgs decision into a political bomb to throw. Cry me a freaking river.”
February 3, 2012– The Komen Foundation reverses their decision and states that only those under “criminal investigation” will be barred. Planned Parenthood can now apply for grants again. Pro-life supporters of the original decision take to Facebook and Twitter to express their anger at the decision.
February 7, 2012– Karen Handel resigns.
So… what do we learn from this?