Much like Congress rethought its decision after the outpouring of public anger over the anti-piracy SOPA and PIPA (Personal Information Protection Act) acts, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation had a change of heart on Friday (February 3) after intense criticism for its decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood initiatives.
Komen, the organization behind the popular pink-ribbon campaign, announced on Tuesday that it would stop funding breast cancer prevention, screening and education at Planned Parenthood health centers — a decision Planned Parenthood claimed was in response to pressure from pro-life groups. Over the past five years, PP centers with Komen program funding have provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams out of the more than 4 million exams performed nationwide at PP health centers, as well as more than 6,400 mammogram referrals out of 70,000 total referrals, according to PP.
Following the firestorm of controversy over the decision, the founder and CEO of the nation's largest breast-cancer advocacy group said on Friday that the group would work to change the criteria that sparked the outcry.
"We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants," Nancy G. Brinker said in a statement. "We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives."
Brinker went further, acknowledging that the original decision to pull funding was done for "political reasons, or specifically to penalize Planned Parenthood." In the wake of the public furor, Komen's director of community health programs resigned in protest over the decision. In addition, 26 U.S. senators had signed a letter this week asking Komen to reconsider its withdrawal decision.
One of the leading artistic voices of dissent over the initial Komen withdrawal from Planned Parenthood were the Decemberists. The band had worked with Komen since the band's keyboardist, Jenny Conlee, had revealed her breast cancer diagnosis. When news broke on Tuesday that Komen had pulled funding for breast cancer examinations at PP, the Decemberists redirected the funds from their "Team Jenny" T-shirt to PP.
On their website, they explained, "The Decemberists are deeply troubled by Komen for the Cure's recent decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, a vital resource in the battle against breast cancer. Providing cancer screenings to low income women is integral to the prevention and defeat of breast cancer and it is unconscionable that Komen should politicize this very important issue by bowing to the fear campaign being waged against PP by the right."
On Friday, the band added an update to their initial posting, writing, "The Decemberists are pleased that Komen for the Cure reversed their decision."