The Komen Board of Directors and Founding CEO Nancy G. Brinker just released a statement in response to the massive outcry following their decision to stop directing funds to Planned Parenthood, most of which went to breast cancer screenings. Komen claims the decision was not political, and that they will continue funding Planned Parenthood:
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.
The rest of the statement is basically Komen asking us to leave them alone and stop being mean.
I definitely see it as a positive that Komen has had to respond in this way, a sign that the massive public outry is having an impact. But I don’t buy the claim that defunding was not a political decision, at all. The people who are saying they didn’t mean to target Planned Parenthood with the new funding criteria created that new funding criteria. Of course you can design criteria to defund organizations you don’t want to support.
I’m also concerned about the ambiguous language about continuing to fund Planned Parenthood. For how long? Till this current grant cycle ends? And then will we hear that unfortunately Planned Parenthood failed to meet the newer criteria? This statement is a positive step, but it reads a lot like an attempt to create political cover. I don’t believe this issue is over – we still need to pay attention to Komen, and still need to hold them publicly accountable for their funding decisions.