Breast cancer research foundation Susan G. Komen for the Cure reversed on Friday its decision to defund Planned Parenthood after a three-day uproar that saw the foundation come under intense political pressure by pro-choice advocates.
Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of the foundation, said in a statement that the philanthropic giant would “continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants.”
“We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not,” said Mrs. Brinker.
Pro-choice groups praised the move, but one leading pro-life spokeswoman said Komen had been the target of a “shakedown” in being forced to reverse course.
The Komen foundation, which gave $680,000 to Planned Parenthood in 2011, had recently revised its grant-making criteria to exclude organizations under government investigation and to make its grants more “results-oriented.”
Both changes would seem to exclude Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, which came under congressional investigation in September over whether taxpayers funds were being used for abortions. In addition, Planned Parenthood provides manual breast-cancer screenings but not mammograms, which have been shown to be far more effective in detecting cancerous tumors.
Mrs. Brinker said Komen would amend its revised grant-making criteria to clarify that groups under government investigation would still qualify for funding as long as the investigations were not “criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.”
“We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics — anyone’s politics,” said Mrs. Brinker.
After its abrupt about-face, however, Komen may find it difficult to extricate itself from the national abortion debate. The same voices that criticized Komen Thursday for succumbing to pressure from pro-life groups were praising Komen Friday for bowing to the demands of pro-choice groups.
“Their quick reversal was a response to the PR nightmare their funding decision sparked,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “People from all walks of life and from all over the country criticized Komen’s decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood, and took to the streets (well, their computers) donating money to Planned Parenthood and demanding that Komen stand by its commitment to women’s health.”
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards attributed Komen’s U-turn to the “outpouring of support” for the organization.
“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,” said Ms. Richards.
Pro-life groups, which had lauded Komen’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood, lamented Friday’s return to the status quo.
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life and herself a breast-cancer survivor, called the anti-Komen outcry “an ugly and disgraceful shakedown that highlights Planned Parenthood’s willingness to pursue a scorched-earth strategy to force compliance with their pro-abortion agenda.”
“The American public has learned this week that Planned Parenthood does not actually provide front-line breast health services: Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms — a service that saved my life,” said Mrs. Yoest in a statement.
Rep. Cliff Stearns, the Florida Republican heading up the congressional investigation that first sparked Komen’s decision earlier this week, noted that Planned Parenthood was able to raise$680,000 to make up for the Komen funding in 24 hours. Planned Parenthood announced Friday that it had raised $3 million in the three days after the de-funding decision was reported.
“Although I wasn’t involved in either decision, it is clear that Planned Parenthood does not need the Komen funding,” said Mr. Stearns in a statement. “I believe that Planned Parenthood could be, and should be, totally self-sufficient, as with so many other non-profit organizations, and spare America’s hard-pressed taxpayers the $487 million Planned Parenthood received in public funding.”
Pro-choice advocates blamed the orginal defunding move on Karen Handel, who joined Komen in 2011 as vice president for public policy and had denounced Planned Parenthood during an earlier run for Georgia governor. Mrs. Brinker said in an interview Thursday with MSNBC-TV that Mrs. Handel did not play a significant role in the decision.
Jeanne Monahan, director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Human Dignity, accused Planned Parenthood of bullying Komen into loosening its standards.
“It is truly unbelievable that the nation’s largest abortion provider has been able to take what has been considered one of America’s most well-respected and beloved organizations and demonize it overnight for simply making their grants results-oriented,” said Ms. Monahan.