After Public Backlash, Komen Reverses Position, Will Support Planned Parenthood
LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Alex Silverman reports
“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,” Komen said in a statement. “We 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 community.”
Earlier this week, the Komen foundation said it was halting grants that Planned Parenthood affiliates used for breast exams and related services.
Komen cut off money, citing a congressional investigation into whether the organization used public money to pay for abortions.
“We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair,” Komen said.
Planned Parenthood officials believed the charity had caved under pressure from anti-abortion groups, but the Komen Foundation said that wasn’t true. Komen donates nearly $700,000 a year to Planned Parenthood.
Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood Federation of America released a statement welcoming 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. We are enormously grateful that the Komen Foundation has clarified its grantmaking criteria, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Komen partners, leaders and volunteers. What these past few days have demonstrated is the deep resolve all Americans share in the fight against cancer, and we honor those who are at the helm of this battle.”
“I think we’ve seen in this week a disgraceful display in Planned Parenthood using real thug tactics to try to bring political pressure on the Komen Foundation,” said Charmaine Yoest, of Americans United for Life.
Millions of women served by Planned Parenthood’s breast health programs could’ve lost out on life-saving screening and education if the organization had gone through with its original plan to suspend funding.
Planned Parenthood received an outpouring of support in response to the cutoff.
In addition to $400,000 in smaller donations from 6,000 people, it is receiving $250,000 from a family foundation in Dallas and a $250,000 pledge announced Thursday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to match future donations.
Some pin the controversy on Karen Handel, a Georgia politician opposed to abortion who took a top job with Komen a few months before the decision to defund Planned Parenthood.
“Unfortunately there are groups that have an extreme agenda that have been bullying the Komen Foundation trying to get them to end their relationship with Planned Parenthood,” said Richards.
“That really is the takeaway from this. These non-profits try as they might to remain non-political, get into the mix and sometimes they do get burned,” Christopher Malone, political scientist with Pace University, told CBS 2′s Tony Aiello.
Planned Parenthood New York sounded anxious to repair the relationship with the Komen Foundation.
“We’re pleased. We’re delighted. We share a common mission, which is women’s health, so to be able to work again together I think is just terrific,” said Joan Malin of Planned Parenthood.
Joann Smith runs the Planned Parenthood in Nassau County, which was in jeopardy of losing $100,000 in funding.
“What it means is the women on Long Island are going to continue to get info about breast cancer prevention,” she told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey.
“Me and my four sisters are at high risk for that and coming here and getting affordable health care means everything in the world to us,” said Stefanie Lew, who says breast cancer runs in her family.
Bloomberg said politics “have no place” in health care.
“Breast cancer screening saves lives, and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care,” he said in a written statement. “We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way.”
The United Federation of Teachers also announced Friday that it would donate $125,000 to Planned Parenthood. The union said the donation was a statement on behalf of its members to fight off “present and future threats to Planned Parenthood.”
“People will see that others are willing to stand up and say ‘enough is enough.’ If there’s an organization out there supplying vital health services to so many women across this country, then leave it alone — and actually you should be supporting them,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew told 1010 WINS.
“A great cheer went out across America from American women with the news of Mr. Bloomberg’s gift,” said Planned Parenthood Foundation president Cecile Richards. “It really is an extraordinary demonstration of his support for women’s health.”
Bloomberg also sent out a Twitter message Thursday afternoon urging other donors to come forward.
“Join me in standing with Planned Parenthood to protect and promote women’s health,” he tweeted.
Thousands of messages have swamped Komen’s Facebook page, the vast majority of them being negative.
“Komen is a wonderful organization and does tremendous things for women, but this is straying from their mission,” said Dr. Kathy Plesser, a radiologist and member of the Komen affiliate’s medical advisory board in New York City.
What do you think? Sound off below in our comments section…
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)