DALLAS – The political damage from Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s unsuccessful attempt to defund Planned Parenthood is now increasingly
evident at various outposts of the global charity.
Most notably, Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of the New York City affiliate, said Tuesday she’s stepping down.
“I am writing to let you know that I have made a personal decision to leave my role as the CEO of Komen Greater NYC effective April 27, 2012 to pursue new career opportunities where I may continue to utilize my education, experience and expertise as well as fuel my passion to make a difference in the health and welfare of others,’’ she said in a statement on the organization’s Web site. “I can assure you that this was not an easy decision, but I am confident that it is the right decision for me.”
The departure, which comes on the heels of another top executive’s resignation, increased speculation that Komen is still reeling from the Planned Parenthood controversy.
Although Komen reversed the defunding decision within a matter of days, the ensuing firestorm, especially on social media, continued for weeks. Komen CEO Nancy Brinker’s political ties came into question, as did the charity’s spending habits
There are continued calls for Brinker, who founded the organization 30 years ago, to step down.
Some longtime Komen backers threatened to end their support and some corporate partners got skittish about their own association with Komen.
Although the dust has settled somewhat, field reports indicate that things have not returned to normal for Komen.
The New York City affiliate has indefinitely postponed its annual spring fundraising event. A Komen official acknowledged organizers “were not certain about our ability to fundraise in the near term.”
Donations in Arizona are down 60 percent compared with last year, causing a Komen official there to label the funding situation a “crisis.”
At the heart of the controversy is Planned Parenthood, which has long been a lightning rod as an abortion provider.
In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry and state lawmakers recently turned down $31 million in federal Medicaid funds that support a health program for 130,000 low-income women. Although Texas has accepted the same amount in past years, a new state law bars funding for clinics that are even “affiliated with” abortion providers.
The Planned Parenthood clinics that provide services under the program don’t perform abortions. But Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit over the issue last week, with Perry’s blessing.
Lori Stahl is a Texas journalist who covers politics. Follow her on Twitter @LoriStahl.