Komen Reverses Funding Cuts to Planned Parenthood
Early last week, the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation said it was cutting funds for breast cancer screenings conducted at Planned Parenthood facilities — and a remarkable firestorm of negative publicity followed.
On Friday, the nation’s largest breast-cancer advocacy agency waved the white flag and backed down.
In a statement, Nancy G. Brinker, the agency’s ambassador, said in part, “We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants … We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.”
The reversal follows days of backlash among supporters and even some of the organization’s top officials, including Mollie Williams, Komen’s director of community health programs, who resigned in protest over the cuts.
Planned Parenthood’s health centers performed more than 4 million breast exams over the past five years, including nearly 170,000 as a result of Komen grants, which totaled $680,000 last year. Komen said earlier this week it was cutting off those funds because of an internal policy dictating grant recipients cannot be the targets of state or Congressional investigations.
While only 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides are abortion-related, the group has been the subject of a Republican-led federal investigation by anti-abortion advocates. In Friday’s statement, Komen said it’s amending its criteria to ensure that disqualifying investigations must be “criminal and conclusive” in nature.
Although Komen maintains “politics has no place in our grant process,” the Associated Press reported on Tuesday that people within the organization said it had adopted its controversial criteria with the deliberate intention of targeting Planned Parenthood.
Those anonymous sources said a driving force behind the move was Karen Handel, Komen’s new vice president for public policy, who lost a campaign for governor in Georgia in which she stressed her anti-abortion views and vowed to defund Planned Parenthood.
Some believe Komen’s largest sponsors and donors, including Yoplait and Dell, may have put pressure on the agency to reverse its stance to ward off possible boycotts.
After Komen released its latest statement on Friday, Planned Parenthood officials quickly responded, saying the agency was grateful for the change in policy.
“In recent weeks, the treasured relationship between the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and Planned Parenthood has been challenged, and we are now heartened that we can continue to work in partnership toward our shared commitment to breast health for the most underserved women,” wrote the agency’s president, Cecile Richards, who credited Komen’s reversal on the “outpouring” of support received by Planned Parenthood on both sides of the political spectrum.