Komen Foundation cancer charity confronts backlash over grant cuts

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by Steve Ryan

azfamily.com

Posted on February 3, 2012 at 6:19 AM

Updated Friday, Feb 3 at 6:21 AM

PHOENIX -- The Susan G. Komen Foundation is facing backlash for its decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

The latest effect of the controversial decision was the resignation Thursday of Mollie Williams, the foundation’s grant distributor. She says that’s her show of protest against the policy change.

The fallout has spread through television media and social media. Most of the scathing allegations online are that the Komen Foundation caved to political pressure. Foundation officials deny that, but whatever the reason, it’s forcing Planned Parenthood Arizona to rush to reorganize.

For many supporters who walk for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the new policy change is the equivalent of telling them to “take a hike.”

“We’ve gotten a lot of calls from donors who are disappointed, upset, concerned, and saddened by the decision,” said Christy Moore of Planned Parenthood Phoenix.

Moore also says that the “virtual social injustice” is being spread on social media. One woman wrote to Komen, “The money I was going to give you is now going to a non-profit that actually cares about women’s health. Shame on you.” Komen is pulling future grants for breast screenings from its affiliates.

“We did not expect this. Planned Parenthood and the Susan G. Komen Foundation have had a long-standing relationship, and this was unexpected to both our federation and local affiliate,” Moore said.

Komen founder and CEO, Nancy Brinker, a former ambassador under the first President Bush, says the decision does not stem from bullying from political conservatives or anti-abortion groups.

“We will never bow to political pressure," she said. "We are working to eliminate duplicate grants, freeing up more dollars for higher impact programs, and whenever possible, we want to grant the provider that is actually providing the lifesaving mammogram."

Mobile mammogram units that partnered with Planned Parenthood screened about 120 women a year throughout Phoenix -- for free -- through roughly $20,000 in grants.

“We are strategizing on ways that we can mobilize our donors and volunteers who are interested,” Moore said.

That could privately fund the same services to women so there is not a lapse. Planned Parenthood received more than $400,000 from about 6,000 donors within a day of the announcement.

New York City MayorMichael Bloomberg has even pledged to match private donations up to $250,000.

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