WASHINGTON Susan G. Komen for the Cure revised a policy Friday that it had recently used in deciding to stop funding for Planned Parenthood, leaving the impression it had reversed itself on future grants to the country's No. 1 abortion provider.
The statement issued by the world's leading breast cancer organization did not guarantee Planned Parenthood affiliates would continue to receive funds, however, only that they would remain eligible for such grants.
Komen's action after three days of a deluge of Planned Parenthood-fueled criticism was received by many pro-life advocates as a distressing setback following so closely on the Jan. 31 report that the breast cancer charity would no longer give money to one of the abortion rights movement's leading organizations.
One thing seemed certain after days of widespread news coverage of Komen's original action and the reaction many more pro-lifers now know the breast cancer foundation has given to Planned Parenthood and may continue to do so. As a result, pro-life advocates' donations to Komen and participation in its popular five-kilometer fundraising runs/walks that draw more than 1.6 million participants each year likely will decline.
"It's a sad day for those who both seek a breast cancer cure and who respect the dignity of all human life," said Matt Barber, Vice President of Liberty Counsel Action. "Susan G. Komen for the Cure should recognize that abortion is not a cure for anything. Perhaps they should change the name to Susan G. Komen for the Cause. What a tragic paradox. There is mounting medical evidence that indicates abortion significantly increases the risk for breast cancer."
Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, had said Feb. 1 the Southern Baptist entity might reconsider its relationship with Komen in light of the charity's defunding of Planned Parenthood. In December, LifeWay pulled from Walmart and other stores copies of a special pink-covered Bible that partially benefited the cancer charity after learning of its connection with Planned Parenthood.
"I am deeply disappointed with today's announcement from Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation if it means a reversal of Komen's decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood," Rainer said in a written statement Friday (Feb. 3). "I renew my strong encouragement of Komen's leadership to end that relationship permanently, and restate LifeWay's commitment to not be involved, even indirectly, with Planned Parenthood."
Komen's latest announcement which came from its board of directors and Chief Executive Officer Nancy Brinker said the charity was "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."
Komen decided to abstain from future funding of Planned Parenthood affiliates because of its new policy that bans grants to organizations under government investigation, a Komen spokeswoman had said in a Jan. 31 report by the Associated Press. A House of Representatives committee began an investigation of Planned Parenthood in September.
In its Friday statement, Komen said it would amend the criteria "to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political."
"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," according to the Komen statement. Komen also apologized to the public for "recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives."
A Komen board member told The Washington Post the new statement does not mean Planned Parenthood definitely will receive money in the future.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), portrayed Komen's announcement as a return to the previous relationship.
"In recent weeks, the treasured relationship between the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and Planned Parenthood has been challenged, and we are now heartened that we can continue to work in partnership toward our shared commitment to breast health for the most underserved women," Richards said in a written release. "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."
Komen affiliates gave about $680,000 to PPFA centers last year, AP reported Jan. 31. An analysis last year by the pro-life American Life League found 18 among Komen's affiliates, numbering about 120, had given PPFA centers grants totaling nearly $630,000 in the 2009-10 fiscal year.
Government funding of Planned Parenthood dwarfs Komen's giving. PPFA and its affiliates received $487.4 million in government grants, contracts and reimbursements alone in 2009-10, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
Money for PPFA and its affiliates helps support an organization that performed 329,445 abortions in 2010. That was more than one-fourth of the lethal procedures in the United States for the year.
In defending its grants to PPFA affiliates, Komen had said the funds were not for abortions but for breast screenings and breast health education. Planned Parenthood, however, does not offer mammograms, a further reason reportedly used by Brinker to defend Komen's defunding decision. Komen has said grants to PPFA may pay for mammograms at other sites.
Pro-life leaders decried Planned Parenthood's tactics in fomenting an uprising against a private charity.
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life and a breast cancer survivor, called the campaign "an ugly and disgraceful shakedown that highlights Planned Parenthood's willingness to pursue a scorched-earth strategy to force compliance with their pro-abortion agenda."
"It is unfortunate that donors to [Komen] are now confused about their association with the nation's largest abortion provider," Yoest said in a written statement.
Life Decisions International (LDI) publishes a boycott list of organizations that give to Planned Parenthood and seeks to persuade them to stop those donations. That list includes Komen.
LDI President Douglas Scott said in a prepared statement, "If Komen officials did not expect to face the wrath of Planned Parenthood and its media allies they were extremely naïve. We have urged Komen to refrain from telling Planned Parenthood of its decision because we knew from experience how the abortion-committing enterprise would respond."
Something similar happened to AT&T in 1989, when it announced the end of 25 years of contributions to Planned Parenthood, according to LDI. In response, Planned Parenthood purchased full-page ads in major newspapers and magazines to criticize the company.
"AT&T held firm," Scott said. "They didn't appreciate being treated in such a way by a 'friend.'"
Rep. Cliff Stearns, R.-Fla., is leading an investigation of Planned Parenthood by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In a Sept. 15 letter to Richards, Stearns asked PPFA's president to provide audits, documentation, policies and procedures regarding such issues as improper billing, segregation of federal funds from abortion services and reporting of suspected sex abuse and human trafficking.
Planned Parenthood has been plagued by various scandals in recent years. Secret investigations by pro-life organizations have uncovered PPFA workers demonstrating a willingness to aid self-professed sex traffickers whose prostitutes are in their early teens, seeking to cover up alleged child sex abuse and agreeing to receive donations designated for abortions of African-American babies.
Komen also has received criticism from some pro-life advocates for refusing to acknowledge studies that indicate a link between abortion and breast cancer. Some pro-lifers also have said Komen has contributed money to embryonic stem cell research, which results in the destruction of human embryos. In a Nov. 30 statement, Komen denied it had ever funded such experimentation, saying it supports research only on stem cells "derived without creating a human embryo or destroying a human embryo."
Christian Examiner staff contributed to this report.
Komen backtracks, restores Planned Parenthood funds