Fierce Komen Backlash in California

California often moves differently from the nation on social issues, but this time the early reaction here melded with angry responses throughout the nation.


While the nation stirred over the decision of the Susan G. Komen Foundation to cease support for Planned Parenthood, the seven Komen affiliates in California made their position clear: They didn't agree and demanded a reversal.

California often moves differently from the nation on social issues, but this time the early reaction here melded with angry responses throughout the nation.

Komen got the message, and this morning the foundation reversed course on Planned Parenthood funding.

But the damage has been done in what must be described as nothing less than a P.R. nightmare.

By now, most people know the basics. The Susan G. Komen Foundation, the nation's largest nonprofit dedicated to fund raising for breast cancer research, ended $700,000 in financial support for Planned Parenthood, another nonprofit which screens one of every five women for breast cancer, almost all of whom are poor.

The Komen Foundation said that its decision was based on new funding rules, and nothing more.

Critics countered that the decision was politically motivated because of the organization's ties with evangelicals and their concerns that Planned Parenthood provides abortions.

Opponents sought to influence the debate by circulating several on-line petitions which generated tens of thousands of signatures in less than 24 hours. They also raised $600,000 for Planned Parenthood.

More significantly, they issued calls for action via Facebook, Twitter and other social media which have become mainstays of political activism in this election year.

If all this sounds familiar, a similar strategy led to Congress abandoning Internet privacy legislation two weeks ago, even though the entertainment industry lobby had outspent the social media industry lobby by a whopping margin of 7-to-1.

For Komen, the turnabout still leaves ugly residual scars.

These days, social media seems to have its own cash value.

The move by Komen shed light not only on the tensions between nonprofits and politics, but all the questions dealing with abortion, life and the role of the state in social issues--just the kind of discussions that Republicans don't want as they try to settle on a presidential nominee.

Now, the four remaining Republican candidates surely will be asked their opinions on the Komen controversy.

All  four have described themselves as pro-life. Their answers and reasoning will be important not only for the California presidential primary in June (remember, delegates are awarded proportionately), but also for November when 20 percent of the voters who define themselves as "independents" will pony up to the polls.

In California, electoral math is pretty simple stuff. Republicans can't win without the lion's share of independent votes.

But this state is very pro-choice. Any Republican candidates not aware of that value are about to be reminded of it in the days to come.

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