Facing a unrelenting barrage of criticism, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation clarified its grant requirements Friday and announced it would "preserve" Planned Parenthood's eligibility to apply for future funds.
Komen endured a third day of negative calls, emails and Internet postings after news reports that said the group caved in to political pressure to cut ties with Planned Parenthood, a frequent foe of abortion critics.
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In a statement Friday, Komen apologized to the American public “for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.”
“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,” read the statement, which was from the Komen board and founder and CEO Nancy Brinker.
Planned Parenthood announced earlier this week that Komen's withdrawal of support was due to a new policy instituted by the organization's board that mandates that grantees must be free of formal investigation. Last fall, Florida Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns began just such a probe into Planned Parenthood's funding.
On Friday, Komen said it would amend its grant criteria "to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political."
New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who on Thursday led a petition from 26 senators urging Komen to reverse its decision, said Friday that he had been in contact with Brinker.
"With these changes to their policy, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is depoliticizing its grant-making process and refocusing itself back on its core mission: saving women's lives,” Lautenberg, a Democrat, said.
Stearns, a Republican, said in a statement Friday that he would continue the investigation into Planned Parenthood's finances. "Planned Parenthood raised the equivalent funds within 24 hours ... it is clear that Planned Parenthood does not need the Komen funding. I believe that Planned Parenthood could be, and should be, totally self-sufficient."
“The outpouring of support for women in need of lifesaving breast cancer screening this week has been astonishing and is a testament to our nation's compassion and sincerity,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement Friday.
“During the last week, millions spontaneously joined a national conversation about lifesaving breast cancer prevention care and reinforced shared values about access to health care for all,” Richards said.
Komen pledged to get back to its fundamental mission immediately: Women’s public health.
“Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work,” the organization said.