February 1, 2012 — Susan G. Komen for the Cure's announcement late Tuesday that it will halt funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates has prompted Planned Parenthood officials to charge that the breast cancer organization conceded to pressure from abortion-rights opponents, the New York Times reports.
Leslie Aun, a spokesperson for the Komen foundation, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Komen would end funding for Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screening and education programs because the foundation had adopted a new rule prohibiting grants to groups that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities (Belluck, New York Times, 1/31). According to Komen, the new rule applies to Planned Parenthood because of an investigation launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R) in September 2011 to look into the organization's operations.
Nineteen of Planned Parenthood's affiliates received about $680,000 from the breast cancer foundation in 2011 and $580,000 in 2010 for screenings and related services, according to Planned Parenthood (Crary, AP/NPR, 1/31). Planned Parenthood officials said funding from Komen helped pay for about 170,000 of the more than four million breast exams the group provided over the last five years, as well as more than 6,400 of the 70,000 mammogram referrals it made during that time period (Kelleher, Reuters, 1/31).
Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Cecile Richards, who has called Sterns' inquiry politically motivated, expressed disappointment in Komen's decision. "It's hard to understand how an organization with whom we share a mission of saving women's lives could have bowed to this kind of bulling," she said (AP/NPR, 1/31).
"Until really recently, the Komen foundation had been praising our breast health programs as essential," Richards said, adding, "This really abrupt about-face was very surprising. I think that the Komen foundation has been bullied by right-wing groups." Richards said Komen notified her of the decision in December 2011 and rejected her request to hold a meeting to discuss the matter (New York Times, 1/31).
Antiabortion-groups have targeted Komen since its partnership with Planned Parenthood began in 2005. "I know that hundreds, even thousands, of people reached out to Komen to request they stop giving to Planned Parenthood," Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, said.
Aun said Komen wants to "maintain a positive relationship" with Planned Parenthood and said the organization is "not making any judgment" (Los Angeles Times, 2/1). Richards said PPFA will work to raise funds quickly to replace the Komen grants and ensure women do not go without breast cancer screenings (AP/NPR, 1/31).