"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, founder and CEO of Komen, said in a statement released Friday. "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."
Through brilliant marketing, Komen has made pink ribbons synonymous with the fight against breast cancer. The advocacy group, according to its website, has invested $1.9 billion in the cause since its founding in 1982.
According to The New York Times, Komen gave Planned Parenthood, which provides health services and abortions to low-income individuals, $700,000 last year to finance breast screening programs. The paper reported earlier this week that Komen had quietly broken ties with Planned Parenthood because, according to one board member, it was worried that an investigation of the group, launched by Cliff Stearns, a Republican from Florida, would damage its credibility with donors.
But Brinker, as late as Thursday, disputed that version of events and insisted that the group's decision was not motivated by abortion or politics but instead by a change to the group's grant-making process.
In applauding Komen's move, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin took the opportunity to implore Wisconsin's Republican leaders to follow suit and reinstate funding for women's health services.
"We call on Governor Walker and the Republican members of the Legislature who worked to eliminate over $1 million in funding for women's access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control and testing and treatment of STD's at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin to follow Komen's lead and to restore our funding and end the partisan attacks on women's health care access," Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said in a statement.
In her statement, Brinker said Komen initially cut funds for Planned Parenthood because Komen's rules precluded support for organizations that are under investigation. But she said those rules would be clarified. "We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political," Brinker wrote. "That is what is right and fair.