Susan G. Komen for the Cure has announced that it will amend its funding criteria and continue to fund its existing grants to Planned Parenthood. The announcement came three days after Komen announced it planned to stop funding organizations under investigation by “local, state or federal authorities” — an announcement that resulted in a torrent of criticism of what was widely viewed as a politically motivated decision.
Early last week, Komen officials said their decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood affiliates was due to an inquiry launched last year by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) to determine whether the organization was using public funds to pay for abortion services.
According to a statement from Komen board members and founder and CEO Nancy Brinker released on Friday, the organization’s revised funding criteria “make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.” The statement also notes that the group “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.”
The reversal of policy came after several days of intense criticism on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter of the organization’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood. Much of the backlash focused on Komen’s newly hired vice president for policy, Karen Handel, who in 2010 campaigned to become governor of Georgia on a platform that included defunding Planned Parenthood at the federal level. Indeed, the decision to discontinue Planned Parenthood’s funding led one top official at Komen to resign, The Atlantic reports.
For Planned Parenthood, the outrage sparked by Komen’s decision quickly turned into a fundraising windfall, with the national organization raising $3 million in three days — including $400,000 from about six thousand individuals and $250,000 from a Dallas foundation within the first twenty-four hours, the Washington Post reports. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg also pledged a one-to-one matching grant of $250,000 to the organization.
Nevertheless, Planned Parenthood supporters remain concerned about ambiguities in the latest Komen statement, which does not acknowledge, for example, that Planned Parenthood directly provides mammograms, even though Komen officials had argued that the reproductive rights organization’s failure to do so contributed to the decision to defund it. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards had no such reservations, however.
“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 Richards. “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.”
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