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Michigan NOW: Don't "Play Politics" with Women's Health

February 9, 2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Fallout from the Susan B. Komen Foundation's flip-flop on funding breast cancer screenings for Planned Parenthood spawned charges on both sides of "playing politics" with women's health.

Republican strategist Arie Fleischer reportedly had been advising, or helping to hire, the Komen executive who resigned over the controversy. Other reports say Komen has been consulting with a public-relations firm connected to Democrats.

Mary Pollack, legislative vice president for the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for Women, recommends a neutral executive search firm, and keeping the focus on one issue alone: women's health.

"They shouldn't be hiring a Republican operative or a Democratic operative to do a search for staff."

Pollack says she knows many women who have decided to stop volunteering for Komen because of the controversy.

"I don't know if they'll ever be able to recover their brand name. It has been so besmirched by what they've done."

Pollack says non-profits would be well-advised to stay away from what she calls the "abortion wars."

"I think every organization needs to be very careful about this."

Many women rely on Planned Parenthood for screenings such as mammograms, Pollack says, adding that she doesn't want to see them lost in the battle.

The Komen Foundation is one of the nation's largest, according to CharityWatch, but other groups also work on breast cancer prevention. CharityWatch recently downgraded Komen's rating from a B-plus to a B, in part because of an increase in its fund-raising costs. Similar groups scored higher; for example, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation got an A-plus.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MI