Komen cuts Planned Parenthood breast cancer screening funding

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The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, a national fundraiser for breast cancer research, has said it will halt all partnerships with Planned Parenthood, a move that will cut funding for breast cancer screenings and prevention.

Komen said the move was in response to newly adopted criteria that prevents the organization from funding any group under government investigation. Planned Parenthood is the target of an inquiry by Republican members of Congress to determine whether the group used public funds for abortions, according to the Associated Press.

Critics of the decision say Komen is giving in to pressure from anti-abortion activists.

“We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count.”

Grants from Komen to Planned Parenthood totaled $680,000 in 2011 and $580,000 in 2010, according to the Associated Press. Komen support funded breast cancer exams for 170,000 women over the past five years.

Komen characterized its decision as strategic, rather than political. According to a statement issued by the foundation, "Starting in 2010, Komen began an initiative to help us do a better job of measuring the impact of community grants. This is important because we invest significant dollars in our local community programs–$93 million in 2011, which provided for 700,000 breast health screenings and diagnostic procedures.

"Following this review, we made the decision to implement stronger performance criteria for our grantees to minimize duplication and free up dollars for direct services to help vulnerable women. To support this new granting strategy, Komen has also implemented more stringent eligibility standards to safeguard donor dollars. Consequently, some organizations are no longer eligible to receive Komen grants."

In response, Planned Parenthood has launched a Breast Health Emergency Fund to offset the support local Planned Parenthood programs stand to lose from Komen. The fund was established by an initial donation of $250,000 from the Amy and Lee Fikes’ Foundation, according to Planned Parenthood.