Susan G. Komen Foundation Reverses Decision To Defund Planned Parenthood
In a move that is likely to only drag it further into the culture wars, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has reversed its decision from earlier this week to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood:
(Reuters) – Susan G. Komen for the Cure said on Friday it was retreating from a decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion and birth control services, and apologized for a move that thrust the world’s largest breast cancer charity into a deeply politicized controversy.
Here’s the statement from Komen President Nancy Brinker:
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.The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been 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.
Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. 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.
Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. 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.
It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. 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.
Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work. We ask for the public’s understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.
We extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support we have received from so many in the past few days and we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.
In the end, this strikes me as the wisest choice for Komen considering the amount of ire its decision hard garnered from longtime supporters and women’s health groups that have traditionally been Komen allies. At the same time, just as the decision earlier this week provoked an uprour on the left, I am betting that this decision will provoke an uproar on the right.
Update: Greg Sargent read the press release and questioned how much it actually committed to future Planned Parenthood funding, so he talked to a member of the Komen Board:
I just got off the phone with a Komen board member, and he confirmed that the announcement does not mean that Planned Parenthood is guaranteed future grants — a demand he said would be “unfair” to impose on Komen. He also said the job of the group’s controversial director, Nancy Brinker, is safe, as far as the board is concerned.
As some were quick to point out, the statement put out by Komen doesn’t really clarify whether Planned Parenthood will actually continue to get money from the group. The original rationale for barring Planned Parenthood was that it was under investigation (a witch-hunt probe undertaken by GOP Rep Cliff Stearns). Komen said today that the group would “amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”
Does that mean Planned Parenthood will get Komen grants in the future?
I asked Komen board member John Raffaelli to respond to those who are now saying that the announcement doesn’t necessarily constitute a reversal until Planned Parenthood actually sees more funding. He insisted it would be unfair to expect the group to commit to future grants.
“It would be highly unfair to ask us to commit to any organization that doesn’t go through a grant process that shows that the money we raise is used to carry out our mission,” Raffaelli told me. “We’re a humaniatrian organization. We have a mission. Tell me you can help carry out our mission and we will sit down at the table.”
Pushed on whether this means the new announcement wasn’t really a reversal, Raffaelli pushed back, arguing that Komen, in response to all the criticism, had removed politics from the grant-making process. “Is it really unclear that we’re changing the policy to address criticism?” he said.
So is it really a reversal? I suppose time will tell.