Komen, Planned Parenthood Profiting From Fight

February 2, 2012       Mark Hrywna      

The controversy regarding Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood of America has lit a fire under supporters of both organizations, which both reported generous boosts in fundraising.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today announced a $250,000 matching gift from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which came on the heels of at least $400,000 that was raised after it went public that Komen had decided to no longer provide grant funds.

“There’s been such an outpouring of support, we can hardly keep up,” said Amanda Harrington, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, unable to provide an updated figure on the $400,000 that had been raised by Wednesday evening. The organization also has received boosts of 9,000 “Likes” on its Facebook page, and almost 120,000 signatures to an open letter on its website.

On a conference call with the media this afternoon, Komen for the Cure Founder & CEO Nancy Brinker reported that donations are up 100 percent in the past two days. She did not specify the time period. In her first public comment since the maelstrom started late Tuesday night, Brinker denied that new eligibility criteria had anything to do with a Congressional inquiry into Planned Parenthood. She emphasized it was a move toward more direct grants rather than pass-through funding.

“It was nothing they were doing wrong. It was that we have decided not to fund wherever possible, pass-through grants. They were sending women out for mammograms. They do not do these within their clinics,” Brinker said in a conference call with the media this afternoon. An affiliate-wide conference call was expected to follow. “What we like to have are clinics we can directly fund,” she said.

Brinker said she initiated a review of granting criteria in 2010 to ensure the most impactful use of donor dollars. “Good organizations constantly evaluate policy, so they can do the best job,” she said.

Brinker and Thompson both emphatically denied that the review of grant eligibility was tailored to cut out Planned Parenthood.

Brinker said Komen always has had the right to cancel existing contracts with organizations that have come under investigation for potential wrongdoing, and has extended that right to organizations  applying for funding. “I think this is good stewardship." Three Planned Parenthood clinics — located in Northern Colorado, Southern California and Waco, Texas — will continue to receive funding because they provide the only services in the area. “There will be no gap for uninsured or underinsured women in these communities,” she said.

“These dollars for granting will not be going away, they will be redirected for programs in our communities more directly,” said Komen President Liz Thompson.

Brinker said there currently are ongoing reviews of some other organizations and their eligibility, adding that last year a “large, state institution” had its funding interrupted because of an investigation, that has now been restored.

There was “an amazing consensus of opinion” from the board to improve the grant standards and criteria for community grants, according to Brinker, and Komen has used the same process in the past for science grants. Thompson added that the issue was discussed at the board level “many, many times before the decision was ultimately made,” and has nothing to do with the Congressional inquiry initiated by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.). “I don’t know much of anything about that investigation frankly,” she said.

“One of the things we’re acknowledging is that this is a difficult issue. It’s made more difficult by gross mischaracterizations,” said Thompson. “We’re all a little distracted right now and would like that distraction to go away.”