Komen Foundation cuts off funding to Planned Parenthood
On January 31, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the most widely known, largest and best-funded breast cancer organization in the US, announced that it was halting financing of breast cancer screening and education programs run by Planned Parenthood affiliates.
The defunding will result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood. It will cut off financing to 19 of Planned Parenthood’s 83 affiliates, which received nearly $700,000 from the Komen foundation in 2011 and have been receiving similar grants since at least 2005. In addition, the funding cutoff will undoubtedly inflame both opponents and opponents on both sides of the abortion issue.
Planned Parenthood asserts that the Komen Foundation has succumbed to longstanding pressure from anti-abortion groups; however the foundation denies that accusation. A spokeswoman for the the Komen Foundation, Leslie Aun, explained that the cutoff was a result of the charity's newly-adopted criteria barring grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state, or federal authorities. She noted that Planned Parenthood was disqualified from grant money because of an inquiry being conducted by Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, who is investigating how Planned Parenthood spends and reports its funds. The Komen Foundation issued a statement noting that it was seeking to “strengthen our grants program” and had “implemented more stringent eligibility and performance criteria.” The statement added, “While it is regrettable when changes in priorities and policies affect any of our grantees, such as a longstanding partner like Planned Parenthood, we must continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission.”
Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards responded that the decision “came so abruptly in the face of a long, good, working relationship with Komen” and that the change in financing criteria “was written specifically to address the political pressure that they’ve been under.” She explained that her organization’s affiliates have provided approximately 770,000 women with breast examinations and paid for mammograms and ultrasounds for those who needed and could not afford further diagnostic services. She explained, “Until really recently, the Komen foundation had been praising our breast health programs as essential. This really abrupt about-face was very surprising. I think that the Komen foundation has been bullied by right-wing groups.”
For decades, anti-abortion advocates have spoken out against the Komen foundation’s financing of Planned Parenthood for years. For example, in December, LifeWay Christian Resources, which is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, reported that it was recalling a pink Bible it was selling at Wal-Mart and other stores because a dollar per copy was going to the Komen foundation and the foundation supported Planned Parenthood.