Is the Susan G. Komen Foundation backing down?
The Susan G. Komen Foundation has just released a new statement from CEO Nancy Brinker. The first line is a mea culpa: “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.”
But what does this mea culpa mean? Brinker goes on to make clear that they will amend their guidelines so only “criminal and conclusive” investigations affect their funding decisions. They will ensure that “politics has no place in our grant process,” and they 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.”
So they are, perhaps, backing down. Or perhaps not. Yesterday, the Komen Foundation said the investigation was not the cause of their reduced support for Planned Parenthood, and that the real issue was that Planned Parenthood did not directly provide mammograms. This statement doesn’t address that concern at all. So it would appear to leave open the possibility that the foundation intends to reject Planned Parenthood’s future grant applications — albeit on less overtly political grounds.
I posed these questions to Leslie Aun, vice president for communications at the Komen Foundation. “I think our statement speaks for itself,” she replied. You can be the judge of that. The statement follows in full:
Statement from Susan G. Komen Board of Directors and Founder and CEO Nancy G. 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.