After three days of widespread opposition and criticism, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure has rescinded decision to cut off funding for about 19 Planned Parenthood clinics that provide breast cancer screening and related services.
In a statement on Friday, Susan Komen of the leading cancer advocacy group, said: "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...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 communities."
CNN reports Komen Foundation had earlier taken a decision to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood, an organization that operates family clinics providing women with family planning and reproductive health services, including abortion. The decision provoked widespread opposition and criticism across the U.S. Some of the affiliates of the group also strongly objected to the move.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Komen announcing on Tuesday the decision to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, said the organization had adopted regulations that excluded Planned Parenthood from funding because it was under government investigation. Planned Parenthood had come under investigation by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce over the organization's "compliance with federal restrictions on funding abortions."
Boobies bracelets and breast cancer awareness
Planned Parenthood, in its reaction to Komen's decision to cut off funding, said that funding from Komen Foundation has contributed significantly to funding breast examination at local centers. According to Planned Parenthood, grants from the group amounting to $680,000 per year, has paid for 170,000 screenings, about 4 percent of the total examinations performed at Planned Parenthood health centers across the United States.
26 Democrats had signed a letter calling on Komen to reconsider its decision and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $250,000 in matching grants to help make up for the loss. Bloomberg explaining his decision, 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. We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way."
Komen Foundation had denied that its decision was politically motivated. Nancy Brinker, CEO and founder of the group, had defended the decision to withdraw funds, saying: "We've always had the right to cancel contracts for organizations that came under investigation for potential wrongdoing. We don't base our funding decisions on emotions or politics or whether one side or another will be pleased."
But on Friday, while announcing its decision to reverse the withdrawal, Komen, according to The Wall Street Journal, said: 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 further that the organization would reach out to its affiliates who had dissented at its earlier decision: "We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue...We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics — anyone's politics."
Dissension in the Komen Foundation board
While Komen Foundation President Liz Thompson, spoke of an "amazing consensus" among the foundation board members on the decision to withdraw funding for Planned Parenthood, CNN reports Dr. Kathy Plesser, a member of the foundation's medical advisory board in New York, pledged to resign if the decision was not reversed. She said: "I cannot as a physician and advocate for women's health continue to be a part of the organization if it continues in this direction." According to Plesser, "A big part of what Komen does is reach underserved communities of women. With this (earlier) decision, they're not living up to this mission."
Mollie Williams, the groups's managing director of community health programs, reportedly left Komen this month. She said: "It was an honor to oversee and expand their public health efforts during my six years there. At the same time, I respect the work of Planned Parenthood, including their lifesaving efforts to detect cancer in its earliest stages. The divide between these two very important organizations saddens me."
Republican senator Roger Wicker, speaking at the annual March for Life rally in Washington on Monday, called the Roe v. Wade decision a "decades-long holocaust."
Deluge of donations
Besides Bloombergs grants, Planned Parenthood had also raised about $400,000 online from 6,000 donors in the first 24 hours after Komen announced its decision to withdraw funding. According to CNN, by Friday, Planned Parenthood had raised $3 million. An anonymous donor offered $300,000 in matching grant money. ABC News reports Oil tycoon Lee Fikes and his wife gave the group $250,000.
CREDO, an organization that claims it is the largest corporate donor to Planned Parenthood, said on Thursday that 250,000 of its members signed a petition urging the Komen Foundation to reverse its decision. The organization in a statement said: "The (earlier) move is clearly connected to attempts by Republicans in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood. In responding to questions about its decision, the foundation cited as its rationale a sham 'investigation' into Planned Parenthood launched by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns."
CNN reports CREDO accused Komen Foundation of succumbing to political pressure.
Reactions to decision to return funding to Planned Parenthood
Bloomberg, reacting to the news that Komen had changed its decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood said, in an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell: “I think health care is at the top of the list [of things] we have to worry about. I don’t think politics should enter it...I’m glad they reversed it but the bottom line is Planned Parenthood is an organization that was providing a great service in terms of screening for cancer and they do a lot of other good things.”
Komen had been under pressure for many years to withdraw funding for Planned Parenthood. Many anti-abortion groups applauded the decision to withdraw funding, but expressed dismay when the decision was overturned. The Wall Street Journal reports Douglas R. Scott, Jr., of Life Decisions International, accused Susan G. Komen Foundation of "caving in to the demands of radical abortion apologists."
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Some lawmakers, mostly Republican, have expressed opposition to Komen's reversal of its decision. Republican representative Renee Ellmers, said komen's original decision to "stop funding pending an important congressional investigation was an act of courage and prudence, making their sudden reversal today appear hollow and weak."
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, said he was "deeply disappointed" at the new decision. He said: "It's unfortunate that public pressure builds to provide money to an organization that goes out and actively as the No. 1 abortion provider in the country."