The Washington Post

Susan G. Komen Planned Parenthood funding decision sparks donation spike, strong reactions


Members of Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and more than 20 other organizations hold a "Stand Up for Women's Health" rally in support of preventive health care and family planning services, including abortion. (JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS)

The Susan G Komen for the Cure foundation’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood has sparked reactions from people across the political spectrum, and a spike in Planned Parenthood donations. As Sarah Kliff and Lena H. Sun reported:

Donors reacting to the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood contributed $650,000 in 24 hours, nearly enough to replace last year’s Komen funding, Planned Parenthood executives said Wednesday.

The organization had raised more than $400,000 from more than 6,000 online donors as of Wednesday afternoon, compared with the 100 to 200 donations it receives on an average day, said Tait Sye, a spokesman for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. He said donations were still coming in.

The group also launched a Breast Health Emergency Fund to ensure funding to affiliates that will lose their Komen grants. That fund received a $250,000 gift from the family foundation of Dallas philanthropist Lee Fikes and his wife, Amy.

“People respond powerfully when they see politics interfering with women’s health,” Sye said. “That’s why we’ve seen a tremendous outpouring of support.”

Komen officials told the Associated Press on Tuesday that they had decided to stop funding Planned Parenthood, saying a new national policy barred support for organizations under government investigation. A House committee began a probe in September into Planned Parenthood’s compliance with federal restrictions on funding abortions.

Planned Parenthood said the fund cutoff is the result of Komen bowing to pressure from anti-abortion activists. Komen also hired a vice president last year, Karen Handel, who had previously advocated for the group’s defunding in her run for Georgia governor.

Some analysts credit Americans United for Life as a major factor in the decision of the House subcommittee to investigate Planned Parenthood. As Sarah Kliff explained:

In the aftermath of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood, a lot of attention has been paid to the role of its Vice President for Policy, Karen Handel. She joined the group last January, after a failed run for governor in Georgia, where she had advocated for Planned Parenthood’s defunding.

But there’s another woman who deserves equal credit: Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest. It’s her group that issued a report last fall, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” that led to a probe by the Energy and Commerce Committee. And it’s that investigation that puts Planned Parenthood in violation of Komen’s new policy that bars funding of groups under investigation.

Yoest has run Americans United for Life for three years. She came to the group from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, and before that, served as the Family Research Council’s vice president for communications. She moved to Washington in the 1980s to work in the Reagan administration. But she counts this as perhaps her biggest victory.

“I have to say, it was some of the best news of my entire life,” Yoest told me in an interview this morning about the Komen decision. She saw the news yesterday afternoon, sitting in her driveway and checking Twitter.

“We’re so used to seeing Planned Parenthood succeed at defining themselves as the trendy place to be, and for Komen to make such a smart decision in recognizing the reality behind Planned Parenthood spin,” she adds. “As a breast cancer survivor, I was always troubled with this whole idea that the nation’s largest abortion provider was enmeshed in the breast cancer fight when they weren’t actually doing mammograms. I look at this as smart stewardship.”

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