Komen Now Waffling on Their Planned Parenthood Grant Commitment

(image: Val Kendal/flickr)

There’s actually a little more confusion than initially reported about Susan G. Komen’s actual commitment to restoring Planned Parenthood funds. They certainly wanted everyone to think that they were changing their policy. Upon closer inspection of their statement, however, they may be trying to take credit for a change in policy without actually doing so.

The statement says that they would “amend the criteria” used in determining their grants, “to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.” And they added that existing grants to Planned Parenthood would go forward, and that they could apply for future grants. But the existing grants were already going forward. That really hasn’t changed. And this doesn’t fully commit Planned Parenthood to receiving those grants in the future.

Greg Sargent tracked down a Komen board member for comment.

I asked Komen board member John Raffaelli to respond to those who are now saying that the announcement doesn’t necessarily constitute a reversal until Planned Parenthood actually sees more funding. He insisted it would be unfair to expect the group to commit to future grants.

“It would be highly unfair to ask us to commit to any organization that doesn’t go through a grant process that shows that the money we raise is used to carry out our mission,” Raffaelli told me. “We’re a humaniatrian [sic] organization. We have a mission. Tell me you can help carry out our mission and we will sit down at the table.”

Pushed on whether this means the new announcement wasn’t really a reversal, Raffaelli pushed back, arguing that Komen, in response to all the criticism, had removed politics from the grant-making process. “Is it really unclear that we’re changing the policy to address criticism?” he said.

The proof that the policy has actually changed, then, will not be revealed until the acceptance of the grant request next year. Planned Parenthood could actually take this a step further. They could refuse to participate in the grant process. If I’m seeing things correctly, the Komen Foundation is breaking down. This has damaged their credibility significantly. They may not be around a whole lot longer. So Planned Parenthood can stand on the side against politicization of women’s health and say they won’t lend any credibility to Komen’s tarnished brand.

I don’t think they’ll do that, but when you see all this game-playing, it’s really hard to go back and take the Komen money. Ultimately, women’s health is more important. But I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this fight.

…Marcy Wheeler has some similar thoughts.

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