Susan G. Komen for the Cure's CEO and founder Nancy G. Brinker responded to the media and public criticism surrounding its decision to suspend a grant program with Planned Parenthood, saying the decision has been mischaracterized and objecting to the notion the foundation has caved to political pressure.
In a video posted on You Tube on Wednesday night, Brinker -- without ever mentioning Planned Parenthood by name -- emphasized the Komen foundation's decision was done to ensure its breast health grants will make the biggest impact possible. Brinker said she personally initiated a review of the Komen's grants and standards in 2010 and determined there were duplicative grants that could be eliminated so the organization can focus on higher impact programs.
Over the past three decades, people have given us more than just their money, they've given us their trust, and we take that very seriously, Brinker said in the video. Regrettably, this strategic shift will regret any number of long standing partners. But we have always done what is right for our organization, for our donors, for our volunteers.
The move has resulted in a firestorm of condemnation from critics who insist it was politically-motivated. Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest reproductive healthcare advocate, is currently the focus of an investigation by U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., who is seeking to determine whether it used federal money to fund abortions. The organization currently receives about a third of its funding from the federal Title X Family Planning Program, which specifically says federal money cannot be used to offset the cost of abortion services.
Congressional Republicans attempted to end all federal funding for Planned Parenthood last February when they added an amendment to the 2011 federal budget that would have cut the entire $317 million Title X program. The amendment, which was ultimately removed from the bill, would have barred the organization from receiving federal funds for any purpose.
Democrats and pro-choice advocacy groups claim the decision could also be connected to Komen senior Vice President Karen Handel, who was hired last April following her failed 2010 gubernatorial run in Georgia. Handel, a Republican, ran on a fiercely anti-abortion platform and pledged to end all state grants to Planned Parenthood, saying its mission ran counter to her pro-life beliefs.
Brinker, who launched the charity in 1982 following the death of her sister, Susan G. Komen, insisted every decision the foundation has made has been done with the intent to aid its fight against breast cancer.
We will never bow down to political pressure, she said. The scurrilous accusations being hurled at this organization are profoundly hurtful to so many of us who put our heart, soul and lives into this organization. But more importantly, they are a dangerous distraction from the work that still remains to be done in ridding the world of breast cancer.