Pro-lifers hold the battlefield: Komen is never going to give money to Planned Parenthood again (although local affiliates may). We can participate in their 5K runs and so forth with a clean conscience now.
Planned Parenthood, for its part, won the war of perception: the news sphere is reporting that Komen “reversed” or “backed down” from its “controversial” decision, partly because that’s what the press wants to believe, but mostly because that’s what the press and Planned Parenthood want everyone else to believe. James Taranto nailed it yesterday:
Planned Parenthood’s bitter campaign against Komen–aided by left-liberal activists and media–is analogous to a protection racket: Nice charity you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it. The message to other Planned Parenthood donors is that if they don’t play nice and keep coughing up the cash, they’ll get the Komen treatment.
Obviously, the mob doesn’t like it when somebody stops paying their monthly dues. They threaten, harrass, do violence, and generally make life miserable (or death, as the case may be) for their erstwhile business partner. But they don’t need the money. If the partner gets out successfully, that’s that. What the mob absolutely cannot afford is for there to be a public perception that it is possible to get out. The mob most maintain the appearance that, if you cross them, you won’t last five minutes before you have to back down — or you’ll end up dead.
Planned Parenthood is a billion-dollar organization. This $700,000 is a drop in the bucket; they get 360 times that much in government dollars every year. But Planned Parenthood is not popular these days. The pro-life boycott of its supporters are making themselves a nuisance. Organizations are uneasy with PP as its nasty underbelly is increasingly exposed, and now it’s under Congressional investigation. It’s politically motivated, but it’s still a big deal. There’s unrest in its big public donors’ ranks. And then Komen breaks off! The most popular and widely-recognized women’s health group in America! If Komen were allowed to leave, or was even perceived to have broken off ties relatively painlessly, the strategic damage to PP would have been incalcuable. So they bided their time, marshalled their forces, and hit back, in a surprise attack, with everything they had. Komen was unprepared, incompetent, and completely inexperienced in fighting this kind of political PR war, and was routed utterly. Popular perception is that PP has both beaten Komen to a pulp and forced it back into the happy abortion family like a battered wife.
Oh, and women win, too, since the money will now be used for more effective anti-cancer measures. But that’s a bit of a “duh,” so I won’t dwell on it.
Can we get mad with Planned Parenthood for this? Only a little.
The officially advertised sense of entitlement over in abortionland is breathtaking, but nobody in abortionland really feels that Planned Parenthood is entitled to Komen funds, any more than Komen cut funding just because of Congress. I mean, PP doesn’t even do mammograms, much less breast cancer research. All the grant did was provide funding so that nurses could do free breast exams. There are not fancy-pants technological breast scans. They’re the “self-exams” you learned in 9th grade health where you feel around for a lump for a few minutes. (They also cost no money, take very little time, and PP nurses already know how to do this, so I’m a little confused as to what PP is spending a million dollars on. Overtime pay?) If something came up, they’d give you a referral to a clinic where, unlike Planned Parenthood, actual medicine is practiced. If Komen had taken the $700,000 out of its joint accounts with Planned Parenthood, piled it up out in the bank parking lot, and burned it all, this decision would not have had any obvious effect on women’s health. As it stands, Komen is not burning it, but redirecting the funds to other sources that actually diagnose and treat women with breast cancer. They’re using it more efficiently. This is good for women. PP and its supporters know that. The backlash wasn’t about Komen killing women or whatever. It was because it is terrifying to pro-choicers that their very legitimacy as a public interest group is being questioned, and they felt they had no choice but to hit back against that idea with everything they had.
This may be difficult for pro-lifers to understand, because pro-life organizations have never been considered part of the public interest no matter how much non-profit good they do for unwed mothers and the like. We’ve borne the brunt of a forty-year media assault. We’ve never had “legitimacy” to lose — just love, prayer, and donations. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, has taken government money in the hundreds of millions of dollars for 42 years, and is generally acclaimed by a fawning media as a critical contributor to women’s health in the United States. An analogy pro-lifers might understand: suppose the government threatened to pull all funding from successful, decades-old Catholic adoption agencies unless they agreed to place children with gay couples on a non-discriminatory basis.
We fiercely defend the Church’s legitimacy in the public space just as Planned Parenthood did. As we should! As evil as Planned Parenthood is, as much as this resembles a mob-style shakedown, I don’t believe we have grounds to criticize them for their response. It was tactically sound, brilliantly executed, and only a little disingenuous. Indeed, we should take lessons from the abortionists on their incredibly effective mobilization (and motivation) of their entire base in well under twenty-four hours. Right-to-life organizations, which are invariably impoverished, poorly organized, technologically behind the curve, and operating largely independently of one another, could never dream of this kind of response as presently constituted. Despite the fact that we crushed the abortionists in actual volume of response, it took us days to reach that point, as our message had to go out slowly through, basically, Facebook. Our messaging was completely uncoordinated, and most of the “news” updates our supporters received was from the virulently anti-life mainstream media and the Huffington Post. Once again, where was the NRLC on this? Where, for that matter, was my favorite group of recent days, Personhood USA? Only AUL kept up steady messaging about this from start to finish. Jill Stanek cannot fight the entire billion-dollar abortion megaphone on her own here, people. The mere fact that we have a just cause does not win us the war: we also have to fight the battles!