What th-- After three days of controversy, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer charity says it is reversing its decision to cut breast-screening grants to Planned Parenthood. "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," a Komen statement said.
As first reported by The Associated Press on Tuesday, Komen had adopted criteria excluding Planned Parenthood from grants because it was under government investigation, notably a probe launched in Congress at the urging of anti-abortion groups.
Komen said Friday it would change the criteria so it wouldn't apply to such investigations.
"We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants," the statement said.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer charity faced an escalating backlash Thursday over its decision to cut breast-screening grants to Planned Parenthood.
The seven Komen affiliates in California announced their opposition to the new policy, affiliates in Arkansas and Connecticut expressed frustration, and at least one top official has quit, reportedly in protest.
Emails and Facebook postings have accused Komen of knuckling under to pressure from anti-abortion groups, after The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Komen was halting grants that Planned Parenthood affiliates used for breast exams and related services.
Komen's top leaders, in their first news conference since the controversy erupted, on Thursday denied Planned Parenthood's assertion that the decision was driven by pressure from anti-abortion groups.
And petitions in support of Komen's move have been started by groups such as thankskomen.com, which said it opposed Planned Parenthood. Komen's move also drew praise from Washington-based organizations Family Research Council and Americans United for Life.
Staff at the St. Louis Komen affiliate — which has never granted funds to Planned Parenthood — have been busy responding to "a mixed reaction" of phone calls and emails, said spokeswoman Janet Vigen Levy.
"We are paying attention and acknowledging all of the communication from concerned people with a variety of different opinions," she said.
Planned Parenthood said it has already received more in donations than the $680,000 it would have received from Komen. Donations totalling $400,000 came from 6,000 people, plus $250,000 came from the Amy and Lee Fikes Foundation, run by the head of Bonanza Oil Co. in Dallas; $250,000 from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and $200,000 from Credo, an Internet company.
More than 120,000 people have also signed an online letter of support, said Tom Barry, a spokesman for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region.
"People respond powerfully when they see politics interfering with women's health," he said.
In Washington, 25 Democratic senators and independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont signed a letter calling on Komen to reconsider its decision.
However, Republican senators showed their support for Komen. "The move will make Komen more effective in fighting breast cancer," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who last year urged Komen to stop funding Planned Parenthood. "Komen does tremendous good by supporting education and research to fight breast cancer, and it was clear that their association with Planned Parenthood was unnecessary to advance that core mission, in part because the groups' clinics don't own or operate mammography equipment."
Funding for Planned Parenthood is less than 1 percent of the $93 million in community health grants that Komen provides, the organization said.
"We don't base our decisions on whether one side or the other will be pleased," said Komen founder and CEO, Nancy Brinker. "Some other grantees probably do provide abortions. We ask a lot of questions of grantees, but that's not one of them."
A statement on its website said Komen has adopted criteria that deny funding to organizations under investigation and cited an inquiry by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, as the reason the foundation withdrew Planned Parenthood's funding.
Mollie Williams, who had been Komen's director of community health programs, resigned in protest over the grant cutoff. Williams said she could not comment.
Komen St. Louis issued a statement that said, "our focus remains on the organization's vision to create a world without breast cancer as we serve those in need in our 17-county service area in Missouri and Illinois ... Regrettably, if donations are directed away from the local affiliate, women right here in our community will see their access to breast health programs diminish."
- Backlash After Komen Cancer Charity Cuts Grants to Planned Parenthood, 26 Senators Call for Reversal (theblaze.com)
- Komen donations up 100% in the past two days; Update: Komen to continue funding some Planned Parenthood chapters? (hotair.com)
- Top Susan G. Komen official resigns over decision to cut Planned Parenthood funding (hotair.com)