(Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation announced on Friday that it will continue to consider Planned Parenthood for future grants.
A special announcement on the Komen website revealed that the cancer foundation is clarifying its policy changes to only disqualify groups based on conclusive criminal investigations and not "political" ones such as the federal inquiry currently taking place on Capitol Hill.
The announcement also included an apology for its earlier decision on Tuesday about cutting ties with Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
"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. The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen," Nancy G. Brinker, the CEO and founder of Susan G. Komen, stated.
Brinker once again explained that its Tuesday decision was not political but part of measures taken to ensure donors' investments were being used effectively.
Planned Parenthood and its allies had blamed conservative political pressure for the decision and accused the Susan G. Komen head of acting on political connections with the Republican Party.
Brinker said Friday, "Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities."
The decision is a result of the mounting pressure that the organization had received this week.
After the Tuesday announcement, PPFA President Cecile Richards accused the foundation of "succumb[ing] to political pressure."
PPFA also fundraised $650,000 from over 6,000 donors in a 24-hour period to fill in the gap from lost Komen grants. The nation's largest abortion provider also raised $500,000 from for its Breast Health Emergency Fund thanks to matching donations from Dallas philanthropists Lee and Amy Fikes and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The Komen foundation originally severed ties with Planned Parenthood after adopting new guidelines barring grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) launched an investigation to see if the abortion provider was using public money improperly in providing abortions.
Brinker also explained that the foundation would favor institutions and clinics that provide mammograms over those clinics and institutions that simply provide referrals to gynecologists. Planned Parenthood clinics provide breast health education and screenings but do not offer mammograms, only referrals for them.
"We're working to eliminate duplicitous grants freeing up more dollars for high-impact programs. And wherever possible, we want to grant the provider that is actually providing the life-saving mammogram," Brinker stated Wednesday before reversing course.
Conservative groups Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council and the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute had all rushed to defend the cancer foundation amid backlash this week. All these organizations also supported the investigation into Planned Parenthood.
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said Wednesday that Komen's decision is more about common sense rather than pro-life pressure.
"It is our understanding that the decision made by the Komen organization was based on a policy that they will not provide funding to any organization which is under investigation by local, state or federal authorities, and that the current congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood disqualifies them for support under that policy," she said in a statement.
Yet on Thursday the scrutiny continued.
Democratic Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) told reporters in a media briefing Thursday that the foundation's decision to cancel grants to PPFA is "detrimental" to women's health.
"Their collaboration with Planned Parenthood ... was one that benefitted women's health, and I feel sad that this decision on their part is to the detriment of women's health," The Washington Post quoted her as saying.
Additionally, 26 members of the U.S. House and Senate signed a letter pressuring the Komen foundation to renew its grants with PPFA.
The letter addressed to Brinker stated, "We write to express our disappointment with Susan G. Komen for the Cure's decision to cut funding for breast cancer prevention, screening, and education at Planned Parenthood health centers. This troubling decision threatens to reduce access to necessary, life-saving services. We urge Komen to reconsider its decision."
The letter continued, "It would be tragic if any woman – let alone thousands of women – lost access to these potentially life-saving screenings because of a politically motivated attack."
Brinker, bombarded by the negative media blitz, said Friday the foundation is eager to move past this incident.
"Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work. We ask for the public's understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve," she concluded.