Updated with comment from former Planned Parent President Gloria Feldt below.
Former senior vice president of public policy for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation Karen Handel said that Planned Parenthood had “literally” stolen the color pink in its branding from the breast cancer research organization during an event at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C. to promote her new anti-Planned Parenthood book.
“The public scrutiny against Planned Parenthood was really growing. Planned Parenthood got that, and they knew they needed to embark on a kind of PR-image campaign,” Handel said. “And when they did that, they decided to make mammograms and that they were a primary of breast health services one of their key messages. As they did that, they talked so much about mammograms, it was drawing Komen into the abortion fight even deeper than the organization ever wanted to be.”
“To them, Planned Parenthood literally co-opted the color pink. And for most people the color pink is associated with what? The fight against breast cancer,” Handel continued. “But Planned Parenthood cloaked itself in that color. Their website changed to pink. Everything they did was pink, pink, pink. Wrapping themselves in what I would call, if you will, a cloak of legitimacy in an effort to gain credibility.”
Handel is credited as the anti-choice operative who pressured the Komen Foundation to end its $700,000 worth of grants to Planned Parenthood for mammogram referrals. The move spurred a wide public support campaign for Planned Parenthood. Komen eventually recanted its decision and Handel left the organization. She’s currently promoting her tell-all book, Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
“Planned Parenthood wants everyone to believe they’re a breast health organization, but they’re not. They do not perform mammograms,” Handel said at FRC headquarters. While it’s true that Planned Parenthood clinics do not have the equipment to perform mammograms, they do perform breast exams as part of a standard routine of care women seek during check-ups, and can refer women to obtain a mammogram if necessary.
“Maybe Planned Parenthood should stand for ‘political player’ instead of Planned Parenthood,” Handel quipped.
She also criticized Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards’ role in the presidential race, pointing to the fact that Richards spoke at the Democratic National Convention and routinely appeared as an Obama surrogate.
“Planned Parenthood routinely through its political advocacy organization endorses pro-abortion pro-Planned Parenthood candidates, including Barack Obama. How is that not a violation of campaign finance and IRS (c)4 rules?” Handel asked. “I would ask you this, if the NRA [National Rifle Association], if FRC, through its (c)4 was out blatantly campaigning for a particular individual or a particular candidate, don’t you think the wrath of the DOJ and the IRS would be raining down on you? I would guess it would be.”
In fact, FRC President Tony Perkins made his support of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) quite clear during the presidential election. “When it comes to the values of family, values of faith, values of freedom, Mitt Romney is a clear choice, I think, for value voters across this country,” Perkins said at a September National Press Club event. Romney and his vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan also spoke at the organization’s advocacy arm’s annual Values Voter Summit. The NRA also endorsed Romney in the presidential election.
Handel, a former Georgia Secretary of State who ran unsuccessfully for governor of the state in 2010, is reportedly considering a bid for Senate.
Planned Parenthood did not respond to a request for comment.
Update: Gloria Feldt, the former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America during the time Handel referenced, explained the pink branding decision to Raw Story in an email.
“As I am the person who branded PP pink, this is tres amusing,” Feldt said. “We — credit to the field staff — created shirts and signs in preparation for the March for Women’s Lives in 2004, along with the “Stand Up for PP (or, women’s health, or choice, or you fill in the blank)” slogan on them.”
“The color and branding stuck, and it tickles me to see them being used to this day. And I can assure you that Handel’s assertion could not be further from the truth. Komen’s pink brand never entered our minds,” Feldt continued. “And in fact if you look you at the shades of pink used by Komen v PP, you will see that they are different in any case, the PP one being deliberately a strong, saucy shade because that’s the image we wanted to project. Komen tends to use a softer pink.”
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
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