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By Richard Asinof
DALLAS – Facing a firestorm of protest driven by social media, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation abruptly reversed course on Feb. 3 and said it would continue funding breast cancer prevention, screenings and education at Planned Parenthood health centers across the nation.
In a statement on Twitter, the foundation said: “We want to apologize for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.”
On Jan. 31, the story broke that the Komen’s foundation had decided to cut off funding to 19 of 83 Planned Parenthood affiliates – amounting to about $700,000 in 2011 – as a result of a new rule adopted by its board of directors that prohibited grants to organizations being investigated by local, state or federal authorities, according to Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun. In particular, a partisan Congressional investigation being conducted by U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Florida, was cited as the reason for de-funding Planned Parenthood.
The Komen foundation’s decision was viewed by many women as injecting politics into women’s health, one that put women’s lives at risk by preventing them from access to breast cancer screenings.
“We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure. Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statemen issued in response to the initial decision.
The Planned Parenthood health center in Rhode Island does not receive any funds through the Komen foundation, according to Jenny Carrillo, senior vice president of External Affairs at Planned Parenthood’s regional office. “I believe this is a politically motivated decsision,” Carrillo said on Feb. 1. “We are deeply disappointed in the decision.
Komen, the nation’s largest breast cancer organization, was inundated with angry messages on its Facebook page and on Twitter. Despite initial attempts to defend the decision to cut off funding, including posting YouTube videos by Nancy G. Brinker, Komen’s founder and chief executive, Komen decided to reverse its direction, saying that the decision had proven to be “deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends.”