I've Got Something To Say

I hate rocking the boat. I just want everybody to get along. There are some people who thrive on arguing but I’m definitely not one of them. I like serene, not confrontational. But sometimes I just can’t keep my mouth shut. I try. Oh boy do I try. I slap both hands over my mouth and tightly squeeze my eyes shut and try to avert the bomb that’s getting ready to disengage.

This whole Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood debacle is one of those times. I’ve stayed quiet (mostly) but the myriad of comments I have read these last few days have distressed me to the point that I cannot remain silent any longer.

There has been so much vitriol spewed by both sides of the fight that the important stuff has gotten lost. If you are pro-choice you can’t begin to understand someone who is pro-life. If you are pro-life you can’t fathom why someone thinks that abortion is okay. And this has clouded everything.

These fiery feelings have lead to false statements and ridiculous accusations and a lot of hate. It all makes me tired and frustrated and sad that people who were at one time part of a common goal (breast cancer issues) are now divided and hurling hurtful and caustic abuse at each other.

Below are just some of the comments I’ve read from both sides of the debate that make me want to scream. I have countered with what I believe to be rational, factual responses with maybe a little bit of opinion thrown in here or there for good measure.

Let me make this clear. I AM NOT PROMOTING SUSAN G. KOMEN OR PLANNED PARENTHOOD.

This is despicable, and I’m going to silently curse every time I see one of those stupid pink ribbons. Whatever they may have meant in the past, they now stand for “Let ‘Em Die.”

Why? That’s one of the most ignorant statements I’ve heard. Pink ribbons do NOT represent Susan G. Komen. Pink ribbons represent breast cancer. Orange ribbons represent leukemia. Teal ribbons represent ovarian cancer. You get the idea.

I find this statement hurtful and terribly offensive. While it’s true that I have become weary of all the pink hype, the ribbon still means something to me and to my family. It serves as a reminder to women that they need to be aware and proactive; it serves to inspire hope in those newly diagnosed; it serves as a badge of honor for those who have fought the fight; it stands as a memorial for those we’ve lost – and we’ve lost too many. And to me personally it represents thankfulness that research has come as far as it has and gratitude to all the people who have made that possible with their financial support and the organizations who have advocated for that research.

If SGK will no longer give grants to PP then I will give my donations directly to PP.

You can give to whatever charity you want. That’s your business. But here are a few of my thoughts:

1. Donations to SGK are specifically related to breast cancer. The funds are then divided into six separate categories: administration, fundraising, research, education, treatment, and screening. When you give money to SGK you have no idea what your money specifically is going to, but you do know that it has something to do with breast cancer. By the same token, if you redirect your donations from SGK to PP you have no idea if it will be used for breast cancer screenings. My point here is, if you have been donating specifically for breast cancer something and you’re disenchanted with SGK then donate to a different breast cancer organization or a local facility.
2. PP is not the only organization who gives free breast cancer screenings. In fact there are probably better options simply for the fact that PP offers only breast exams and not further diagnostics such as mammogram and ultrasound. Which means if a woman has a breast exam at PP and something is found, she’s going to have to go somewhere else from there anyway. There are any number of programs for uninsured and underinsured women who offer both screening and diagnostic testing.
3. Just like it’s your right to give your money to whichever charity you want to, it’s an organizations right to give their grant money to whichever research or community health agency they want to.

I will not donate to SGK anymore because they now pay for abortions.
They don’t pay for abortions. They provide funding so a woman with no insurance and no money can get a possibly life saving breast exam. Unless there has been a misappropriation of funds (and I know all about the investigations), grant money is never used for abortions. There is nothing to actually suggest this has ever happened at PP.

That said, if you’re uncomfortable donating to SGK because there’s a chance your donation will help fund abortions, then by all means, donate somewhere else. But please don’t accuse SGK of funding abortions.

I thought SGK was in the business of saving women’s lives, yet they’re partnering with PP and abortions cause breast cancer.
Forget pink. This one makes me see red. There is no scientific evidence to support that claim. Here’s a link to the American Cancer Society which, unless you’re a conspiracy theorist, is in the business of cancer facts. FACTS. http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/MoreInformation/is-abortion-linked-to-breast-cancer. It’s true there are studies out there which claim to show a link, but their stats are unreliable due to a whole host of reasons which are explained in the ACS link.

This is a real hot topic button for me because when my mother shared that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer with a long time family friend, the first thing she asked was if I had had an abortion. Understandably this floored my mom. When I learned about it I was enraged. First – because it’s the height of rude tackiness. Second – because abortion does NOT cause breast cancer.

If we could find a cure for polio, we can find a cure for cancer.
That is the hope, but to compare polio and cancer is like comparing apples and orangutans. Polio is one virus. One as in singular. Cancer is a mutation of cells and the reasons, causes, triggers, etc. are different for each type and subtype. Not to minimize polio, but it was one cure. Cancer is not that cut and dried.

There’s a cure for cancer. It’s just being kept secret by the pharmaceutical companies, government and organizations like SGK because cancer is such a big money maker.
Really?

SGK’s administrators take too much in compensation. All they care about is making money.
Well… It kind of seems that way to me, too. A friend of mine pointed this out to me, however:

Just an FYI – most directors of big charities get paid big bucks. When charities reach the size like Komen, they are incredibly difficult to administer, not to mention the compliance required to maintain its non-profit status. When you think about all the different tax jurisdictions where Komen has a presence, just making sure all the ‘i’s’ are dotted and ‘t’s crossed to prevent having the 501(c)(3) designation from being pulled is a huge job. The person in charge really needs to be a non-profit expert in compliance. This is highly specialized and demands high pay. Another thing to consider is that certain people get paid highly because they are able to use their connections to bring in many more dollars than otherwise would have been received by the charity.

I think what it comes down to is this – to the average person their salaries are over the top. However, that is an opinion and is relative to each person. Eddie pointed out further:

You will hard-pressed to find CEO’s at companies the size of Komen making less than a million dollars. And, not-for-profits have all the issues that for-profits have PLUS all the non-profit compliance issues.

Only 40%/28%/12% of the donations go to actual charity. The rest goes for administrative costs.
I’m not sure where people were coming up with these numbers, but they’re very inconsistent and way off. According to Charity Navigating (an objective third party who rates charities), 80.5% of what they bring in goes to research, education, screening or treatment. That might not sound like a lot, but when you look at other charities of a similar size that’s pretty much on par.

Planned Parenthood’s PRIMARY mission is to provide low cost/no cost abortions. 75% of its funding goes to this exact purpose.
Not true. Regardless of your position on abortion, Planned Parenthood does provide other services – good services – and abortion is only a small portion of what they do. If you are opposed to Planned Parenthood that’s your business. But don’t skew the statistics.

There were other statements that I took issue with, but writing this post has exhausted me, taken all day, and I’m just done. As I said above, I am not endorsing or promoting either Planned Parenthood or Susan G. Komen and have actually kept my personal opinions regarding the two to myself.

Comments? Great! All I ask is that they be respectful.

11 Comments

  1. gretchen on February 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    I love that you wrote this. I agree with you 100%. And I’m not endorsing either, either. Wish all of the mudslinging would end up saving some lives, but alas…

    Your words remind us of that for which we fight. xxxooo

    • Jenster on February 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Thanks, friend. You are always so encouraging! xoxoxo

  2. Bev on February 6, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Oh Jen I thought I was the only one that heard all that! My brother very anti-lovingly brother told my mother I had a deep secret with that abortion that caused my cancer. Took me forever to change her thinking on that-she asked her doctor. Still haven’t had a real conversation with brother “dearest”. And only last fall someone came to my bible study class telling them that all breast cancer was caused by birth control pills. Again had to do the “Hello, no I didn’t take birth control, didn’t drink like a fish, didn’t have an abortion, was fairly young, was fairly within my wieght (at that time!) -sometimes there are people outside the box.” At least when mom called asking my what I thought about the SK thing she listened and didn’t judge what I thought about it. And when some other friends asked me what I thought they listened this time. Maybe it is the small steps that count sometime.

    • Jenster on February 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      Oh Bev! How damaging ignorance can be!! I’m so sorry. And I think you’re right. Those small steps cannot be discounted.

      Thanks for sharing.

  3. Mary on February 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Thank you for your time and energy to put this together. I want to be part of helping people not not tearing them apart.

    • Jenster on February 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      ” I want to be part of helping people not not tearing them apart.”

      Me too, Mary! Me too!

  4. Tara Watson on February 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Jen, I read a quote today at work that a person was “ignited by optimism”. I love that description, what a better way to be described. Your writing about this subject was “ignited by your passion” and was “fueled by your intellect”. You so eloquently captured what needed to be said. It’s a shame how ignorant yet opinionated people can be, and if you combine that with people who are too lazy to understand and research the facts, it just becomes ridiculous.
    I think back to the 70’s when my Mom was diagnosed with cancer, it was a death sentence. We were so uninformed about cancer that kids in my elementary school didn’t want to be friends with me because they thought they might get cancer.
    How far we’ve come in 30 years!
    Be proud of yourself and what you’ve written, it’s beautiful and well articulated.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Jenster on February 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      Thanks, Tara. 🙂

      We have come so far, haven’t we? Thank God!! Like I said to Bev, ignorance is so damaging.

  5. Bonnie Reniff on February 20, 2012 at 3:42 am

    Jen, I’m glad that you shared all of this information about the comments about these two charities. I totally agree with you and hated the fact that all of the mud slinging was going on about them. Unfortunately most people don’t look into the real facts, they only repeat what they hear without verifying whether it’s true or not.
    Thank you, Bonnie

    • Jenster on February 20, 2012 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks Bonnie. Hope you all are doing well!!

  6. SeaSpray on February 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Well Said! All of it. I won’t say much because I might end up giving opinions. But, we do need unity and ability to reason out the facts and not react to the hype.

    I did hear/read that about big pharma, but of course never saw it validated anywhere.

    They say the same about Christian ministries at CEO level too. I don’t why people think because it is a charity or a ministry …the people working on it’s behalf don’t deserve same level of pay as other companies. It’s a lot of work and if you have the skill to handle that management level ..they why not the salary that accompanies it. Of course ..then we’ve all heard where some charities waste and not much money gets to the cause. CEOS have been dishonest. And of course not all ministries have been run with integrity either. We have to be discerning.

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