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Komen Changes Course on Funding Breast Cancer Screenings at Planned Parenthood

Congrats! In 36 hours, over 1,800 of you signed our petition calling on the Susan G. Komen Foundation to stop playing politics with women's health and continue granting money to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings and mammogram referrals. You joined thousands of Americans across the country to deliver a strong message, and you were heard loud and clear. It was just announced that Komen will revise their grant process which should allow them to continue funding Planned Parenthood's work:

Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.

Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. 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.

We will let you know about more changes and updates in the coming days. To look back at how we got here, we've produced a recap of everything that happened in the last 36 hours. Going forward, the lessons learned from the past two days will be instructive to nonprofits and activists alike as we understand the importance of putting health care above politics, and the power individual people have to make a difference.

An Overview of the Susan G. Komen & Planned Parenthood Controversy

Komen’s Policy Change

  • Komen’s national executives adopted a new internal policy that states they will not give grants to organizations under investigation. The Washington Post has reported the policy was adopted by unanimous vote in October, while the New York Times, Atlantic and others have reported the decision was made in December.
  • Late September 2011 – Florida Congressman Cliff Stearns announces a congressional investigation to audit Planned Parenthood.
  • Komen issues grants to approximately 2,000 organizations, but the rule change has only been applied to Planned Parenthood so far. Penn State University is also under congressional investigation for the Sandusky affair. Komen has given Penn State a $7.5 million grant, but has not yet announced they are ending that partnership.
  • Komen gave Planned Parenthood a $680,000 grant last year. Komen had given grants to Planned Parenthood for the last five years, allowing Planned Parenthood to perform 170,000 breast cancer screenings and provide referrals for over 6,400 mammograms. Komen’s money only went to 19 of Planned Parenthood’s 85 affiliates, and all of it was used for breath cancer screenings and other breast health related services.
  • Komen has also stopped funding institutions that perform embryonic stem cell research.

Komen Staff, Allies Protest Policy Change

  • Mollie Williams – Komen’s top public health official resigned shortly after the policy change was announced. She was in charge of dispersing Komen’s $93 million in annual grants to approximately 2,000 organizations nationwide.
  • Dr. Kathy Plesser – A New York City radiologist, Dr. Plesser is a member of Komen’s scientific advisory board and announced she would resign per position unless Komen changed their decision.
  • Deb Anthony – The executive director of Komen’s LA County chapter is resigning from her post over the decision.
  • All seven California affiliates of Komen are protesting the national organization’s decision and will continue dispersing their grants throughout the year as planned.
  • Komen’s Connecticut chapter announced it would not cut ties to Planned Parenthood.

Karen Handel, Komen’s Vice President of Public Policy