Thursday, May 6, 2010

Narrative vs. Mission [Jay Watts]

Here is an excerpt from an article at Medical News Today:

An April 2009 study by Jessica Dolle et al. of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center examining the relationship between oral contraceptives (OCs) and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in women under age 45 contained an admission from U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) researcher Louise Brinton and her colleagues (including Janet Daling) that abortion raises breast cancer risk by 40%. [1]

Additionally, Dolle's team showed that women who start OCs before age 18 multiply their risk of TNBC by 3.7 times and recent users of OCs within the last one to five years multiply their risk by 4.2 times. TNBC is an aggressive form of breast cancer associated with high mortality.

But this troubling excerpt is what I wanted to focus on in this limited post:

"Although the study was published nine months ago," observed Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, "the NCI, the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and other cancer fundraising businesses have made no efforts to reduce breast cancer rates by issuing nationwide warnings to women."

This disturbs me, but it is not surprising. To put it very simply, a non-profit organization must have a clearly articulated mission statement and then work to assure that the daily operations of that organization are actually serving that mission. This may seem like common sense, but it is very easy for a charity or a ministry to stop serving their mission and begin serving a narrative. Associations and relationships grow and become important and without even noticing it happened an organization is more concerned about what they and their friends believe about the world than what they are supposed to be doing.

What else explains why charitable organizations that exist to fight breast cancer would have no reaction to information that certain controllable behaviors have an impact on a woman's breast cancer risks? If they were clear on their mission, that they are solely against breast cancer, then any information that might be helpful to women in regards to that mission ought to be taken seriously. It is not necessary to jump full on board immediately with every published study that comes down the pike, but a minimal recognition of the new information and a word of caution that your organization is going to keep their eyes on this is easy enough.

But organizations begin to believe they serve a greater narrative and not a focused mission. Information that undermines that narrative must be discredited or ignored whether it impacts the mission or not. In this case the greater narrative appears to be that abortion and birth control are “A OK” and that the forces in the world that seek to moralize these issues are puritanical bad guys that want to ruin everyone else's fun because they hate sex and women. These breast cancer groups became part of a movement and a larger vision for society.

As a result, they failed to serve their missions because they forgot why they exist in the first place. They exist to help reduce the number of women who die from breast cancer or even the number of women that must endure breast cancer. If they still understood that they would not hesitate to pass along information that is possibly helpful in serving that mission. They would not worry about how that information impacts the narrative they prefer because the narrative is secondary to the mission. This may mean that they reassess certain alliances and associations based on new information but such is life.

We do not spend much time on the abortion/breast cancer link here at LTI. That is because we have a specific mission that involves teaching pro-life advocates how to articulate why abortion is wrong. Abortion is wrong because it unnecessarily kills innocent human beings. If it never contributed to a single case of breast cancer it would still be wrong, so we focus on that major point and try not to get distracted by other areas that are well covered by other organizations. We discuss certain points behind the scenes and when we are considering taking on a new idea we ask the questions, “Is this on mission? Does it serve our mission to address this? Is this the reason that people are financially supporting our work?” If the answer is yes then we move forward no matter what. If the answer is no then we reign ourselves in.

If the breast cancer organizations would practice that simple discipline they would find themselves liberated to serve the purpose for which they were originally constituted without fear of what other organizations might be hurt by serving their mission. Planned Parenthood, I am looking at you. But unfortunately so many disparate groups have thrown their hat into the ring with the despicable and vile Planned Parenthood that they appear hopelessly compromised at this point. So compromised that breast cancer organizations are hesitating to tell you that certain behaviors increase your risk of breast cancer. Bewildering.

Planned Parenthood isn't worth it, guys. And neither is a narrative that destroys life for that matter.

HT: Michael Martelli


  1. Right on! If we continue to present the Truth...eventually it will break-through and prevail!

  2. Thanks. See also:


All comments are moderated. We reject all comments containing obscenity. We reserve the right to reject any and all comments that are considered inappropriate or off-topic without explanation.