Komen reverses decision to cut Planned Parenthood funds

By Cynthia E. Keen, AuntMinnie.com staff writer

February 3, 2012 -- The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation announced today that it will continue to fund existing grants and also consider future grants for Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening, clinical exams, and educational programs, reversing a controversial policy that came to light just days ago.

The move follows a firestorm of criticism by the public, opposition from several of Komen's state affiliates, resignations and threats of resignation within Komen's leadership, and a national media frenzy over the decision.

Over the past five years, Planned Parenthood health centers have provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and more than 6,400 mammogram referrals with Komen funding. Komen provided program funding of approximately $680,000 to Planned Parenthood in 2011.

Several weeks ago, the foundation had begun notifying Planned Parenthood programs that their breast cancer initiatives would not be eligible for new grants, according to a Planned Parenthood spokesperson. The new policy began receiving widespread attention after news articles were published on January 31.

Although Nancy Brinker, Komen's founder and chief executive, stated in a news conference on February 2 that the organization's decision was based on improved grant-making procedures -- and had nothing to do with abortion or politics -- critics suggested otherwise.

The New York Times reported that John Raffaelli, a Washington, DC, lobbyist and Komen board member, told the newspaper that Komen made the changes to its grant-making process specifically to end its relationship with Planned Parenthood. Raffaelli said that Komen had become increasingly worried that an investigation of Planned Parenthood by Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) would damage the organization's credibility with donors, the Times reported.

Today's announcement from Brinker stated that the organization "will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities."

She further stated that Komen would amend its newly implemented grant-making procedures to exclude only investigations that are criminal and conclusive in nature. "We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics -- anyone's politics."

Dr. Kathy Plesser, a mammographer practicing in New York City, and a member of the medical advisory board of Komen's New York City affiliate, had been quoted in a New York Times article as stating that she would resign if Komen did not reverse its decision.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood officials said they welcome Komen's reversal.

"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 Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. "We are enormously grateful that the Komen foundation has clarified its grant-making criteria, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Komen partners, leaders, and volunteers."

Copyright © 2012 AuntMinnie.com

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