“While it is regrettable when changes in priorities and policies affect any of our grantees, such as a long-standing partner like Planned Parenthood, we must continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission,” the statement said.
Planned Parenthood has been a perennial target of protests, boycotts and funding cutoffs because of its role as the largest provider of abortions in the United States. Its nearly 800 health centers nationwide provide an array of other services, including birth control, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screening.
Komen, founded in 1982, has invested more than $1.9 billion since then in breast-cancer research, health services and advocacy. Its Race for the Cure fundraising events have become a global phenomenon.
Life Decisions International includes Komen on its “boycott list” of companies and organizations that support or collaborate with Planned Parenthood. In December, Lifeway Christian Resources, the publishing division of the Southern Baptist Convention announced a recall of pink Bibles it had sold because some of the money generated for Komen was being routed to Planned Parenthood.
Stearns, in a statement emailed to the AP on Monday, said he is still working with Planned Parenthood on getting the requested documents. He said he is looking into possible violations of state and local reporting requirements, as well as allegations of financial abuse, and would consider holding a hearing depending on what he learns.
Many of the allegations were outlined in a report presented to Stearns last year by Americans United for Life, a national anti-abortion group, which urged him to investigate.
Democrats and Planned Parenthood supporters have assailed the probe as an unwarranted political ploy.
Komen, while not publicly announcing its decision to halt the grants, has conveyed the news to its 100-plus U.S. affiliates. Richards said she was informed via a phone call from Komen’s president, Elizabeth Thompson, in December.
“It was incredibly surprising,” Richards said. “It wasn’t even a conversation _ it was an announcement.”
Richards subsequently sent a letter to Komen’s top leaders _ CEO Nancy Brinker and board chairman Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr. _ requesting a meeting with the board and asserting that Komen had misrepresented Planned Parenthood’s funding-eligibility status in some states.
According to Planned Parenthood, the Komen leaders replied to Richards with a brief letter ignoring the request for a meeting, defending the new grant criteria, and adding, “We understand the disappointment of any organization that is affected by these policy and strategy updates.”