Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the women’s health foundation under intense criticism for breaking ranks with Planned Parenthood, denied Thursday that political considerations played any role in its decision to cut off funding to the nation’s largest abortion provider.
We will never bow to political pressure,” Nancy G. Brinker, Komen founder and CEO, said in a 3 1/2-minute video statement posted on its website and on YouTube. The message said the reason was based on other factors, including that Planned Parenthood doesn’t generally provide mammograms.
Mrs. Brinker, who named the charity for her sister after she died of breast cancer, said the decision to cut off Planned Parenthood was made after she initiated a review of the organization’s grants and standards in 2010. Komen issued $93 million in community breast-health grants in 2011.
While current grants are not affected, she said, “regrettably, this strategic shift will affect any number of our long-term partners.”
“The scurrilous accusations being hurled at this organization are profoundly hurtful to so many of us who put our heart, soul and lives into this organization,” said Mrs. Brinker. “But more importantly, they are a dangerous distraction from the work that still remains to be done in ridding the world of breast cancer.”
Tens of thousands of angry posts hit social media sites after word of Komen’s decision spilled out late Tuesday. “Susan Komen would not give in to bullies or fear. Too bad the foundation bearing her name did,” said author Judy Blume via Twitter.
The denunciations spread Thursday to liberal lawmakers on Capitol Hill, where 26 U.S. senators signed a letter calling on Komen to reverse itself.
“It would be tragic if any woman - let alone thousands of women - lost access to these potentially lifesaving screenings because of a politically motivated attack,” wrote the senators, all Democrats except Bernard Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.
Independently, Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, said the Komen decision was “deeply troubling.”
“I call on the foundation to reverse their decision and not let politics interfere with protecting women’s health,” he said.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood accused Komen of succumbing to political pressure, saying anti-abortion groups “have repeatedly threatened” Komen for involvement with Planned Parenthood.
Meanwhile, pro-life groups raced to show support for Komen by flooding the foundation’s website with congratulatory emails and pledging to become active partners in its fundraising efforts. The Komen foundation, known for its Race for the Cure events and pink ribbons, has raised more than $1.9 billion since its inception in 1982 for breast cancer research.
The Family Research Council issued an alert Wednesday night asking its members to send a thank-you email to Komen. By noon Thursday, the site had funneled more than 15,000 emails to the organization, said FRC spokesman J.P. Duffy.
“Then we heard that some of the emails were bouncing back. I don’t know; I think we might have overwhelmed their server,” said Mr. Duffy. “Our people are very excited. I know a lot of them have wanted to get involved with Komen.”