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BOOSTER SHOTS: Oddities, musings and news from the
health world

Komen's decision to aid Planned Parenthood again sparks reactions

February 03, 2012|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Nancy Brinker, founder and chief executive of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, says the group has reversed its decision and will continue to fund Planned Parenthood.
Nancy Brinker, founder and chief executive of Susan G. Komen for the Cure,… (Haraz N. Ghanbari / Associated…)

As soon as Susan G. Komen for the Cure issued an unexpected statement reversing its decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, statements praising and criticizing the move were released.

"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," said the statement from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "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."

The organization saw a substantial spike in donations this week after Komen initially said it would end most grants to Planned Parenthood due to changes in its policy. One of those was to stop funding organizations currently under investigation by federal, state or local authorities. Planned Parenthood is under a congressional investigation begun by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who is trying to determine if federal money is being used to fund abortions, forbidden by law.

Today's statement from Komen, a national breast cancer foundation, said, in part, "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. The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. 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.

"Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. 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."

"I am tremendously heartened by the decision," said Sue Dunlap, chief executive of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. "This morning I am really proud of women and men across the country who stood up and said we can't have this kind of divide in our healthcare. We're really honored that we're going to be working with Komen. Our missions are so compatible, and our work is really not about politics. It's about taking care of women, men and families."

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has been critical of Komen's initial decision from the beginning, putting her name on a letter (with 25 other senators) asking the group to reverse its stance. Today, a statement was issued applauding Komen.

"This is a huge win for women in communities across the country who will now be able to get the breast cancer screenings they count on through Planned Parenthood," Murray said. "And this is a major victory for the men and women across America who made their voices heard over the last few days to express their shock and dismay at Komen's initial decision. Politics should never come between women and their health care, and I am very glad that Komen did the right thing and reversed their misguided and deeply damaging decision."

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) also issued a statement, saying, "It's a great day when our deeply held belief that breast cancer can only be wiped out if we all work together has triumphed over right-wing politics."

"This reversal was the right call," said a statement from Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), "and came swiftly enough that the damage to the Komen Foundation's mission may be mitigated. The Foundation and Planned Parenthood work tirelessly to protect and improve the lives of women. This decision clears the way so that their good work can now resume."

But not everyone was thrilled with Komen's turnabout. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) released the following statement from her office in Washington today: "I am deeply disappointed in the sudden reversal by the Komen Foundation of their original pledge to cut ties with Planned Parenthood — the nation's largest abortion provider. Their original stance to stop funding pending an important congressional investigation was an act of courage and prudence, making their sudden reversal today appear hollow and weak."

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