Talk about closing the barn door after the animals have fled. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure has hired a big-time public relations firm to improve its now-tattered image among millions of American women.
It's too obvious, but I'll say it anyway. Someone should have thought of that before making what turned out to be a monumental mistake of cutting off breast-cancer screening contributions to Planned Parenthood. Maybe all that high-priced image-management talent might have advised against it. But then who's to say that the lunkheads would have taken it? After all, these are the same folks who decided that one congressman's threat to conduct an investigation of Planned Parenthood qualified as a full-fledged government investigation.
Maybe the first thing the PR people should do is recommend they get rid of Komen's board. My goodness, what were they thinking? Didn't they expect an instant outcry in an age when communications can go viral? Have they never heard of the Arab Spring? They got 6,000 tweets or whatever in about the same time it takes to spell mammography.
Perhaps those who believe women should be the sole determiners of how and when and if they reproduce -- popularly called "choice" -- should thank the ignorance of the K-board in these matters. They found out they had far more allies than they thought, especially among those who believe women's health issues like breast cancer should not be politicized. The Komen money granted to Planned Parenthood was strictly earmarked to provide testing services to poor women for that dreaded malady.
In a way, the Komen people were themselves typical victims of intimidation by the zealots who too often these days control our lives. They beat up on their opposition in unimaginable ways bordering on violence. It is one thing to oppose certain policies, but quite another to do so to gain political advantage and to try to push one's opponent under a bus at every opportunity. Those who would let a woman die or put her life in jeopardy to preserve the sanctity of a cause or religion or out of fear should be forced to undergo similar treatment.
The threatened congressional investigation Komen was using as an excuse for its actions is steeped in politics. It is just another election-year attack by social conservatives seeking to unseat the current president. Planned Parenthood is a favorite target in the continuing discourse over pregnancy termination. But abortion is only a small part of the service the agency offers for millions of women seeking help on female health issues. It is a leading provider of contraceptive measures, for instance.
On whichever side one comes down on these issues, there should be an understanding that this is a country of rights provided by the Constitution -- and the chief arbiter of those rights is the Supreme Court, which has decided that women do have the privilege of making certain choices. If one does not agree with that, he or she certainly can try to get that ruling altered. But should that be at the expense of other non-controversial services?
What is not up for grabs in the fight to overrule the court is any attack on legitimate programs that deal with the preservation of life and well being beyond the pregnancy matter. That is what raised the hackles of an untold number of Americans who regarded the Komen decision as just another capitulation to the zealots who insist on telling them how to live.
It is probably a good thing that Komen hired the heavyweights for advice on how to recover from this debacle. There is evidence they will need it to sustain their activities at the same level. That would be a tragedy, too, because until now they have done a great job.
Email Dan K. Thomasson, former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service, at email@example.com.