While reviewing my notes I noticed that I had this draft in my queue. Although drafted in July, I think the topic is still relevant.

In 2009, I wrote a six-part series “Reforming America’s Currency” out of frustration with how behind the United States is in its currency production process (not economic policy) as compared with the rest of the world. After all, the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are the largest money manufacturers in the world. In Part 4, I wrote that the “first reform in commemorative coinage would be that no commemorative would be struck for the sole purpose of raising money for any organization. Regardless of how worthy the organization may be, the association of the commemorative with fundraising taints the process.”

2006 Canada silver $5 Breast Cancer Commemorative Coin

2006 Canada silver $5 Breast Cancer Commemorative Coin

Nearly six years later congress presents us with a clear example of why fundraising must be eliminated from the process with the debate over the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 2722).

In an astounding partisan move, some members of congress have chosen to display their political umbrage to try to derail a commemorative coin that has bipartisan support.

If you are not aware, the original version of H.R. 2722 would have given the proceeds to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The argument was whether money raised by the commemorative should go to Komen. As a not-for-profit charitable corporation, Komen supports education and research to fight breast cancer. The organization, founded in 1983, has been one of the more successful organizations in education and providing research funds in the fight against breast cancer.

Komen is not without controversy. Most have been within the last 10 years when the organization has grown to such size and scope that some feel it may be more corporate driven than focused on its original mission. One of its controversies is its association with Planned Parenthood. Komen, who gives grants to organization for women cancer screenings, had been proving grants to Planned Parenthood earmarked for cancer screenings. Since Planned Parenthood has also had its share of controversies, social conservatives balked at the association.

More recently, Planned Parenthood has been accused of unethical practices regarding their medical-related practices. A video surfaced that claims someone at Planned Parenthood would be selling fetal tissue following abortions. It was a hidden camera video whose contents have not been verified. Although the video has some disturbing conversations, it is unknown whether this is an isolated incident or a policy followed by some.

Because of the politics surrounding the abortion issue, the policies of Planned Parenthood, and Komen’s support of Planned Parenthood’s cancer screening programs, Komen was open to attack by right wing demagogues looking to score political points rather by using the concept of guilt by association rather than rational thinking.

Canada's non-controversial 2005 25-cent Breast Cancer circulating coin

Canada’s non-controversial 2007 25-cent Breast Cancer circulating coin

In order to deal with these chest-thumping yahoos, all of whom are white men living in their own glass houses, the bill had to be amended to remove Komen from the organization receiving the money. Rather, all of the proceeds will go only to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Komen may have its controversies but the debate on this issue is beyond the pale. Their mission is for education and cancer research. Their mission should be as non-partisan as anything in this country. Cancer does not discriminate. Cancer will attack anyone at any time for any reason regardless of affiliation outside of being a sentient being.

To bring any other issue into the discussion, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, shows congress’s immaturity and that the basic function of raising money using commemorative coins should be discontinued immediately.

Some will be upset over my discussion of politics, but politics are part of the coin making process since the U.S. Mint cannot do much without permission. I also both sides of the issue, but for this debate, I do not care. When you have to go three-degrees of separation to dig up an issue in an unrelated political debate, it gets frustrating. It is yet another illustrations as to why I am against using commemorative coins to raise money for any cause regardless of how I feel about the cause—and I have personal reasons for being in favor of cancer research and education. This debate should have NEVER devolved into a discussion about abortion. The fact that it did stoop to those depths proves that congress needs to get out of the commemorative coin business. It will be one less area they can mess up.

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