The Susan G. Komen Foundation finally responded Thursday to critics of the breast cancer charity’s decision to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood. But it did so by releasing a video of the group’s grim-faced
founder, Nancy Brinker.
Though groomed to perfection, Brinker looked about like you’d expect of someone who’d spent years building something, brick by brick, and then driven a truck through the front window by accident.
One thing she did right, however, was take responsibility for the controversial decision: “I,’’ she said, stressing the word, initiated a comprehensive review of our grants and standards. This isn’t unusual; we’re always looking at our policies and procedures.’’
The only goal, she said, was to eliminate “duplicative” grants, and “wherever possible” make grants directly to the provider.” Planned Parenthood does not actually do the mammograms, but refers women to providers who do.
Komen officials told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the decision was the result of its own new policy precluding it from funding any group under government investigation. In September, a Congressional committee began investigating whether Planned Parenthood complies with the Hyde Amendment barring the federal funding of abortions.
Brinker also clarified that Komen is not pulling any grants this minute, and said the group had always intended to make sure there were no gaps in service by contracting directly with service providers when the current contracts are up.
And she repeated that the decision had nothing to do with politics.
But she did not address the fact that Komen’s new vice president, for policy, Karen Handel, is a long-time critic of Planned Parenthood, and had made the group an issue in her unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial run in Georgia.
As She the People’s Lori Stahl wrote yesterday, Brinker has strong Republican ties and Planned Parenthood, run by Cecile Richards, daughter of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, has strong Democratic ties. Briker served as George W. Bush’s ambassador to Hungary, and Komen has recently announced new ties to the George W. Bush Institute, the policy arm of the presidential library to open in Dallas next year.
Richards has accused Komen of bowing to conservative pressure to cut off ties with Planned Parenthood, which does perform abortions. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg reported today that the decision was political, had caused heated internal arguments at Komen, and had led one high-level Komen official to resign in protest.
In a single day, Planned Parenthood raised almost as much money as it received from Komen last year, taking in $650,000, much of it in small donations made online. Komen gave Planned Parenthood $680,000 last year.