Unable to withstand the escalating backlash over its decision to cut funds for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood affiliates, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has surrendered. "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," Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker said in a statement released this morning.
Nancy Brinker: Komen's Founder and CEO
The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.
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.
It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics - anyone's politics.
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.
We extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support we have received from so many in the past few days and we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.
So ends a PR nightmare that began Tuesday when Komen announced that it had adopted criteria excluding Planned Parenthood from future grants for breast-cancer screenings because it was under a government investigation. Critics said the board's decision was driven by fear of abortion opponents inside and outside of the organization.
As the Seattle Times reports, the Puget Sound Komen affiliate in Seattle, expressed its "extreme disappointment and frustration," on Thursday and beseeched the national Komen office to rescind or revise its "misguided" policy.
In the letter from Cheryl Shaw, executive director, and Joni Earl, board president, the local affiliate said the national policy is "overly broad and strips the authority from affiliates to determine how to best serve our local communities with the funds entrusted to us by our donors."
Komen's biggest fundraising event is its annual multicity "Race for the Cure," scheduled in Seattle for June 3.
Patty Murray will be holding a noon-time press conference -- originally set to denounce Komen -- about the foundation's decision to reverse course. Seattle Weekly will post later to provide details of her remarks.
She issued the following statement today:
This is a huge win for women in communities across the country who will now be able to get the breast cancer screenings they count on through Planned Parenthood. And this is a major victory for the men and women across America who made their voices heard over the last few days to express their shock and dismay at Komen's initial decision. Politics should never come between women and their health care, and I am very glad that Komen did the right thing and reversed their misguided and deeply damaging decision.
Our fight for women's health does not end here. There are still many who will continue to put partisan politics ahead of women's health, and we need to make sure that the grassroots support and energy that successfully came together to right this wrong stands ready to be there for women the next time we're needed.