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Komen speaks on Planned Parenthood

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Matt McClain for The Washington Post Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation CEO and Founder Nancy Brinker. I just got off a call with Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure CEO Nancy Brinker and President Elizabeth Thompson, in which the two officials spoke at length about the group’s new policies that would bar the funding of Planned Parenthood. A few takeaways:

It’s now less clear why Planned Parenthood lost the Komen funding. Komen had initially told the Associated Press that Planned Parenthood could not receive funding because it was under government investigation. But today, in no uncertain terms, Johnson indicated that the decision actually had very little to do with an ongoing congressional probe.

“First and foremost, it doesn’t really have anything to do with that,” she said, adding that she didn’t know “very much” about the investigation because she works “20 hours a day focusing on our mission.”

So why did Planned Parenthood lose funding? Brinker says it has to do with the fact that they do not provide mammograms to women, but only provide mammogram referrals. “It was nothing they were doing wrong,” she explained. “We have decided not to fund, whereever possible, pass-through grants. We were giving them money, they were sending women out for mammograms. What we would like to have are clinics where we can directly fund mammograms.”

Komen had initially funded 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates and, in the wake of new funding policies, will only continue funding three of those chapters. The three that will continue to receive funds are in Northern Colorado, Southern California and Waco, Tex., because “they are the only provider” of breast health services in the areas they serve, Brinker said.

Planned Parenthood has reported an outpouring of support, $400,000 in the 24 hours after the announcement. I asked Brinker and Thompson what reaction they had seen, both from donors as well as their own affiliates, to the new funding policies.

“One of the things we’re acknowledging is that this is a difficult issue,” Thompson said. “It’s made more difficult by gross mischaracteriziations. We are now coming together as a family. We have a call scheduled for this very shortly. ... We’re all a little distracted right now and would like that distraction to go away.”

Brinker added that donations to the group have not taken a hit: Rather, they are “up by 100 percent over the past two days.”

“I’ve done this for 32 years and there’s a lot of ups and a lot of downs,” Brinker said. “We don’t do things because they’re popular. We do what we need to do to make progress in the field of breast cancer research. ... We are singularly focused on that mission.”

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