Breaking: Komen apologizes, says they will continue funding Planned Parenthood

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.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • Laura

    I agree with you that this is entirely political. I’m sure it’s a way to generate her book sales, too. I keep seeing “stop being mean” come up wherever Komen supporters are present. Is it “mean” to protest stupidity? Is it “mean” to write intelligently and embrace free speech? It sure SCARES THE HELL OUT OF PEOPLE when one does. Jesus. It’s like disciplining children with these people.

  • Zed

    This response really doesn’t make me any more inclined to stop boycotting them. If they had admitted up-front that it was an ill-considered political ploy and forced the resignation of vice president Karen Handel, I’d consider that a real sign of contrition and that they had regained control of their organization.

    This is just pretending to be sorry to minimize punishment.

    While I’d normally be generous even on that reason (it’s good to encourage companies to respond to backlash, as opposed to encouraging them to dig in their heels), in this case a point made in another post dominates: for as long as they are a major source of funds for Planned Parenthood, they have too much power to throw around. That stream needs to be fed from a different, less hostile source. The funds that would have gone to Planned Parenthood through them need to come to Planned Parenthood by other means, and those means have now been posted.

    • Naomi

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. If Komen is expecting PP supporters to throw their arms around them and apologize for being such big meanies then they’ve got another think coming.

  • Mari Passananti

    I’ll never trust the Susan G. Komen Foundation again, and I won’t sponsor anyone who participates in their events. Their willingness to throw millions of under-served women under the bus to appease certain right wing donors is disgusting.

    Also, they didn’t reinstate the cash on a going forward basis. They just said PP can apply for future grants. Huge difference, one Ms. Brinkin et al surely hope most folks won’t notice.

  • Meh
  • Kat

    As reported over at I Blame the Patriarchy, Komen did not cave. They are faking you out.

  • MN

    It is ridiculous to say that the people making the policies would not be aware of who they would be excluding. It is clear to me that they were making a political statement about abortion, and I think that it is very sad that they were putting politics before the needs of so many woman who depend on Planned Parenthood for their health needs.