NEW YORK — The nation's leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates. 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 antiabortion activists. Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress — an inquiry launched by a conservative Republican lawmaker from Florida who was urged to act by antiabortion groups, including by Americans United for Life.
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-Ocala, seeking to determine whether public money was improperly spent on abortions.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has depicted Stearns' inquiry as politically motivated and said she was dismayed that it had contributed to Komen's decision.
"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. "It's really hurtful."
Two Democrats in Congress — Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Rep. Michael Honda of California — issued statements denouncing Komen's action.
"I am stunned and saddened," said Honda, whose longtime chief of staff, Jennifer VanderHeide, had breast cancer last year. "I call on Komen to reconsider this decision, stand strong in the face of political pressure and do the right thing for the health of millions of women everywhere."
Antiabortion groups 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."
Stearns, in a statement emailed to the AP on Monday, said he is looking into possible violations of state and local reporting requirements by Planned Parenthood, as well as allegations of financial abuse, and would consider holding a hearing depending on what he learns.
Planned Parenthood has been a perennial target of protests because of its role as the largest provider of abortions in the United States. Its nearly 800 health centers provide an array of other services, including birth control, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screening.
Planned Parenthood says its centers performed more than 4 million breast exams over the past five years, about 170,000 as a result of Komen grants. The partnership began in 2005.