About five years ago, Nebra walked in the annual 60-mile Susan G. Komen for The Cure Foundation event in Phoenix. She raised a few thousand dollars for Komen’s fight against breast cancer, soliciting donations from friends and others sympathetic to the cause.
To train for the event, Nebra rose in pre-dawn hours for weeks prior to going to work, logging dozens and dozens of miles in walks with a woman friend along canal banks. That takes motivation, a belief you are benefiting a cause dear to your heart.
I clearly remember the emotional phone call I received from Nebra after she listened to compelling cancer testimonials as the event wound down.
Like a lot of others, Nebra trusted Komen to do the right thing, to keep its focus on women’s health issues and not veer off into the la-la land of politics. But apparently a detour is exactly what Komen did this week, moving from a position most assumed was noble and politically neutral.
By announcing it was taking away funding from the political hotcake, Planned Parenthood, Komen took a hard right into the political arena and stirred up a national hornets nest. That decision, the New York Times said in its lead editorial today, left Komen with “a grievous, perhaps mortal wound.” Planned Parenthood has long been a glowing target of the far-right and fundamentalist religious groups primarily because about 3 percent of its work involves abortions.
Whether Komen reverses its decision, the organization has taken a permanent hit. Even with a needed shakeup at the top, the damage is done. It will be difficult for many women to now trust Komen’s motives. Leadership has shown it is out of touch with its followers.
I asked Nebra this morning how she felt about the hub-bub. She said she does not yet have enough facts to draw conclusions. But that a cooly-logical mind like Nebra’s would dare to question Komen seems a bad omen for the organization’s future.