NEW YORK — The nation's leading breast cancer advocacy organization Thursday confronted a widening backlash to its decision to largely end its decades-long partnership with Planned Parenthood, with rising dissension in its own ranks and roiling anger on the Internet showing once again the power of social media to harness protest.
All seven California affiliates of the organization, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, released a statement saying they opposed the decision. Twenty-six senators urged the Komen foundation to reconsider its decision.
A pledge of $250,000 from New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, helped Planned Parenthood, which provides family planning and abortion services in hundreds of clinics across the country, to more than make up the money it lost.
Komen's founder and chief executive, Nancy Brinker, held a news conference Thursday and insisted that the organization's decision had nothing to do with abortion or politics. Rather, she said, it simply resulted from improved grant-making procedures and was not intended to target Planned Parenthood.
"We think this is the right thing to do from a stewardships standpoint," Brinker said.
Her comments directly contradicted those of John D. Raffaelli, a Komen board member, who told the New York Times on Wednesday that Komen made the changes to its grant-making process specifically to end its relationship with Planned Parenthood. Raffaelli said that Komen had become increasingly worried that an investigation of Planned Parenthood by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, would damage Komen's credibility with donors.
To Planned Parenthood, that cutoff amounted to a bitter betrayal of the two organizations' shared goal of saving women's lives through breast screening programs.