Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's largest charity dedicated to the battle against breast cancer, has for several years donated significant sums to Planned Parenthood to pay for thousands of breast exams. Then on Wednesday, February 1st, the Komen Foundation announced that it would stop giving to Planned Parenthood, citing an ongoing investigation launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R, Fla.) into the organization's alleged improper use of taxpayer money to fund abortions.
The move caused a social media storm with scores of people taking to Facebook and Twitter. Some denounced the decision, calling it politically motivated and vowing to stop giving money to Komen. Many immediately sent money to Planned Parenthood. Petitions from Credo Action and SignOn.org urging a reversal of the decision began circulating on the Web. However, those on the other side of the acrimonious rift praised what Komen had chosen to do.
On Thursday morning, the Komen Foundation posted a YouTube video entitled "Straight Talk from Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, Founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen." In it Brinker says, "Regrettably, this strategic shift will affect any number of long-standing partners, but we have always done what is right for our organization."
According to a CBS News report on Thursday morning, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards begs to differ. "I think this decision was the result of a political pressure campaign, a kind of bullying effort against the Komen Foundation, trying to get them to break this relationship with Planned Parenthood," she told the CBS reporter. Richards also spoke to the Associated Press, saying, "It's hard to understand how an organization with whom we share a mission of saving women's lives could have bowed to this kind of bullying. It's really hurtful."
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Rep. Michael Honda of California, both Democrats, issued statements reproving Komen's action. In stark contrast, anti-abortion groups such as The Alliance Defense Fund hailed the development. Planned Parenthood has long been the target of protests because it is the largest provider of abortions in the United States. When Komen initiated its partnership with Planned Parenthood in 2005, the breast cancer charity also became the object of anti-abortion groups' ire. Komen is now on the "boycott list" of Life Decisions International and last December the publishing division of the Southern Baptist Convention recalled the pink Bibles it had sold, saying that money meant for Komen was being routed to Planned Parenthood.
An article on the ABC News site based on information from the Associated Press reports that Stephanie Kight, a vice president with Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, said, "One of the things these organizations share is the trust of women across the United States. That's what we're concerned about - not losing the trust of these women, who turn to both of us at their most difficult moments."
Kight was also quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, "Our affiliate always sponsors a team of 30 to 40 people who participate in the Race for the Cure. I don't know what we'll do now. When we go to the Komen race, we're all just women."