February 3 2012

Senators Shouldn't Harass Private Charities About Their Funding Decisions

Carrie L. Lukas

The Susan G. Komen Foundation's decision not to continue funding Planned Parenthood has created a big uproar.

Among my personal Facebook friends, I see posts from those celebrating the decision and those lamenting it. And in both cases, individuals are being urged to vote with their dollars: Give money to support Planned Parenthood if you are disappointed that they are losing this source of revenue; give money to Susan Komen Foundation to show support for their decision to sever ties with Planned Parenthood. And in fact, both groups have reported a spike in individual giving.

This is how the marketplace should work. You can agree or disagree with the decisions made by private entities, whether it's the Komen Foundation or a private business, and judge them on their policies and the company they keep. If you don't like a charity's decision to support another organization, then it's your prerogative to not give money to that charity. If you don't like how one company behaves, take your business elsewhere. It is still (for the most part at least) a free country.

There's something disturbing though, when a group of Senators gets into the mix and sends a letter expressing their disappointment with the decisions made by a private charity. How is Nancy Brinker, the head of the Koman Foundation, supposed to take this? Is there an implicit threat attached to such powerful officials urging her to reconsider the organization's giving policy?

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has said that the Planned Parenthood decision had nothing to do with politics or the abortion issue. That's fine and, undoubtedly, an important message for them to get out. They are trying to fight breast cancer and want support from as many people as possible, regardless of anyone's belief about abortion.  Personally, I was surprised to learn that Komen supported Planned Parenthood in the first place, because Planned Parenthood is so linked with the abortion cause and with supporting pro-choice, and particularly Democrat, politicians and policies, and it could jeopardize support from pro-life or just non-left donors.

Yet beyond Komen's public relations considerations, it's really none of anyone's businesses why they decided to change their criteria.

Americans can decide for themselves whether they think Komen made the right decision on Planned Parenthood, and how they want to allocate their charitable-giving dollars. That's what free citizens do, and the government and public officials should stay out of the way.

 

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