Friday, February 3, 2012

Update: Komen backs down on Planned Parenthood

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Well, that was pretty quick: After days of stinging criticism, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation today reversed its decision to cut off its funding to Planned Parenthood.

A statement posted on the Komen website this morning begins: "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."

Komen, which is the nation's highest profile and best-funded breast cancer organization, continues to insist that its previous decision was not politically motivated.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has recieved a massive influx of donations to its emergency fund, which was set up to continue cancer screenings for low-income women. As of this writing, the fund had raised close to a a million dollars, considerably more than Komen's entire contribution for 2011.

————— ORIGINAL POST: THU, FEB 2, 2012 AT 11:17 AM

Could the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation's decision to cut off its Planned Parenthood contributions — see Wednesday morning's blog post here — end up costing Komen more than it does Planned Parenthood itself?

It's certainly beginning to look that way. In the 24 hours since the Komen decision was announced, Planned Parenthood says it's received $400,000 in contributions to the emergency Breast Health Fund that's been set up in order to continue its cancer screening program for low-income women. Add to that the original seed money from the Amy and Lee Fikes Foundation, and the total rises to $650,000, which is nearly equal to the entire amount that Komen contributed last year.

There's more: Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for the Atlantic, posted this morning that "three sources told me the organization's top public health official, Mollie Williams, resigned in protest immediately following the Komen board's decision to cut off Planned Parenthood."

While Komen is officially saying its decision to cut off the nearly century-old reproductive health organization was not politically motivated, there's increasing evidence to suggest it was in response to pressure from anti-abortion advocates.

The controversy may also lead to increased scrutiny of how Komen spends it donations. As the pie chart below (courtesy Wikipedia) indicates, more than 60 percent of Komen donations goes to administrative costs, fundraising and education, whereas the lion's share of Planned Parenthood funding goes to direct health services. Faced with a choice between pink water bottles and essential health care services, it wouldn't be surprising if some donors end up choosing to give directly to Planned Parenthood.

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