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Komen Designed Policy Expressly to Cut Off Planned Parenthood

The fallout from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity’s decision to eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings continues. Jeffrey Goldberg gets some inside knowledge. Komen’s public rationale for cutting off the funding claims to take the pressure off their own decision-making. They adopted a rule, they said, stating that any organization under federal investigation could not be a recipient of their donations. But Goldberg finds that this was a pretext, a “Planned Parenthood rule” created for the specific purpose of defunding them:

But three sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut-off Planned Parenthood. (Komen gives out grants to roughly 2,000 organizations, and the new “no-investigations” rule applies to only one so far.) The decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization’s new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is “pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.” (The Komen grants to Planned Parenthood did not pay for abortion or contraception services, only cancer detection, according to all parties involved.) […]

The decision, made in December, caused an uproar inside Komen. Three sources told me that the organization’s top public health official, Mollie Williams, resigned in protest immediately following the Komen board’s decision to cut off Planned Parenthood. Williams, who served as the managing director of community health programs, was responsible for directing the distribution of $93 million in annual grants. Williams declined to comment when I reached her yesterday on whether she had resigned her position in protest, and she declined to speak about any other aspects of the controversy.

Goldberg gets an on-the-record quote from John Hammarley, the former communications adviser for the charity, acknowledging that Williams resigned because of the action against Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile the donation bonanza continues for Planned Parenthood almost in inverse proportion to the loss of Susan G. Komen’s reputation.

Donors reacting to the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood contributed $650,000 in 24 hours, nearly enough to replace last year’s Komen funding, Planned Parenthood executives said Wednesday.

The organization had raised more than $400,000 from more than 6,000 online donors as of Wednesday afternoon, compared with the 100 to 200 donations it receives on an average day, said Tait Sye, a spokesman for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. He said donations were still coming in.

The group also launched a Breast Health Emergency Fund to ensure funding to affiliates that will lose their Komen grants. That fund received a $250,000 gift from the family foundation of Dallas philanthropist Lee Fikes and his wife, Amy.

Komen’s official line is that “our priority is and always will be the women we serve,” though considering how many of those women use Planned Parenthood for women’s health services, this is a laughable defense. Not to mention the fact that Komen does virtually nothing for women’s health or fighting breast cancer generally, according to a new documentary on the subject.

With Komen tied so much to corporate sponsorship, it’s really a matter of time before those partners are targeted. This will unravel badly.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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