Planned Parenthood grants cut. Cancer charity halts support; Mich. sites won't be affected (Detroit News)

Published February 1, 2012 by The Detroit News (Lifestyle: Health)

By David Crary, Associated Press

Detroit News Staff Writer Laura Phelps contributed.

Detroit News




Published: 02.01.12| Updated: 02.01.12

New York— The nation's leading breast cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates — creating a bitter rift, linked to the abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women.

The change will mean a cutoff of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams.

Planned Parenthood says the move results from Komen bowing to pressure from anti-abortion activists. Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress — a probe launched by a conservative Republican who was urged to act by anti-abortion groups.

The rupture, which has not been publicly announced as it unfolded, is wrenching for some of those who have learned about it and admire both organizations.

Lori Lamerand, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan, said the move sends a message to those who use Planned Parenthood in Michigan and underscores that "as a country we're not committed to getting women and children the care they need."

Lamerand said the Michigan group does not receive funding from Komen and would not be financially hurt by the national decision.

Planned Parenthood performed 750,000 breast exams last year nationally, she said, and that will be hard to do without Komen funding. She could not say how many were completed in the Michigan program.

"We're kind of reeling," said Patrick Hurd, who is CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia — recipient of a 2010 grant from Komen — and whose wife, Betsi, is a veteran of several Komen fundraising races and has breast cancer.

"It sounds almost trite, going through this with Betsi, but cancer doesn't care if you're pro-choice, anti-choice, progressive, conservative," Hurd said.

Planned Parenthood said the Komen grants totaled roughly $680,000 last year and $580,000 the year before, going to at least 19 of its affiliates for breast cancer screening and other breast health services.

Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun said the cutoff results from the charity's newly adopted criteria barring grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. According to Komen, this applies to Planned Parenthood because it's the focus of an inquiry launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., seeking to determine whether public money was improperly spent on abortions.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has depicted Stearns' probe as politically motivated and said she was dismayed that it had contributed to Komen's decision to halt the grants to PPFA affiliates.

"It's hard to understand how an organization with whom we share a mission of saving women's lives could have bowed to this kind of bullying," Richards told the Associated Press.

Anti-abortion groups, in contrast, welcomed the news. The Alliance Defense Fund praised Komen "for seeing the contradiction between its lifesaving work and its relationship with an abortionist that has ended millions of lives."

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