State Affiliates Balk at Komen’s Planned Parenthood Decision as Backlash Intensifies

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February 2, 2012; Source: LifeNews | Reports are beginning to leak out about resignations related to the recent decision by the Susan G. Komen Foundation to defund Planned Parenthood. The move is proving to be as divisive among former supporters as most expected, but it is also playing out dramatically for the organization internally. Statements of protest from affiliates are beginning to appear, including this one, reported on Ezra Klein’s Washington Post Wonkblog, from all seven of Komen’s California affiliates to their congressional delegation:

“The seven California Affiliates of Susan G. Komen for the Cure are strongly opposed to Komen National’s new grant making policy. This policy prevents Komen Affiliates from funding organizations under investigation at the regional, state or federal level. Planned Parenthood is currently the subject of an ‘inquiry’ in Congress.

We are working with our National organization to clear the way for Komen Affiliates to continue to make local grant decisions based on their community needs. Know that women will continue to be served in California. Any grants currently in affect in our State will be continued though the end of the year.

We will work on this within our own organization with the same tenacity and passion that we worked with our legislators in keeping the state’s breast cancer screening program, Every Women Counts, operating. Our California collaborative will not rest until this issue is resolved.

Komen volunteers have worked tirelessly for the past 30 years to increase awareness, screening and research for the cure. What we have experienced and witnessed over the last two days is an extraordinary level of passion for these important issues to women. Our commitment to our mission is unwavering. This is a misstep in that journey and we want to assure all Californians that we will do whatever it takes to do what is right for the health of women and men in California.”

A statement from the Arkansas affiliate reads:

“The Arkansas Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is about breast health. After Susan G. Komen National decided, without input from affiliates, to stop grant funding for any organization that is under governmental investigation, including Planned Parenthood, we feel caught in a political storm about something else entirely,” it said. “As we understand this, there is an investigation of Planned Parenthood by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Energy and Commerce Committee of the United States Congress. We hope Komen national will reverse its position on granting to organizations under investigation because we feel decisions of this nature should be made only after the investigation is complete.”

While the affiliate actions may place the most powerful pressure on the organization, other elements of the backlash against Komen are not mild.

Meanwhile, as this article notes, Komen CEO Nancy Brinker seems to be in contortions trying to explain the organization’s action to the public. Brinker denied any political motivation for the shift and, in fact, pretty much denied that the shift was occurring—basing this, it seems,on the technicality that some of the grants to Planned Parenthood have yet to expire.

Since the viability of any denial of political motivation was virtually destroyed today by this article in The Atlantic, one wonders what Komen’s next move will be.

Please add any information or thoughts you have. –Ruth McCambridge

  • Loretta Prescott

    Thank goodness people are riled up about it. So much goes on around us everyday that is swept under the carpet, actions that are diabolical or injurious, but we have evolved enough to understand the true meaning of this one. Change never comes from complacency.

  • David Scholl

    Interesting that it took “political motivation” to bring about defunding. I am curious as to why Komen continued funding of Planned Parenthood after the link between oral contraceptives, abortions and breast cancer was revealed through several medical studies in recent years. Just seems a bit off that an organization dedicated to a cure for breast cancer funds the biggest proponent of, and provider of, two of the biggest risk factors for beast cancer!

  • ruth

    komen, itself says there is no link between abortions and breast cancer. So does the American Cancer society, the World Health Organization and a Lancet article that reviewed 53 studies involving 83,000 women. Not for nothing, but how much evidence do we need?

  • Judy Chen

    Would love to see comments re: lessons for the nonprofit field. While Komen’s actions are (to me) morally repellant and strategically foolhardy, Komen’s board and execs are hardly the first among us to make big miscalculations. It’s a fascinating case study. What can we all learn from this moving train wreck?