Sunday, June 24, 2018
Health

Komen backs off decision to cut breast screening grant to Planned Parenthood

TAMPA — After three days of backlash, Susan G. Komen for the Cure reversed its decision to cut breast screening grants to Planned Parenthood.

Many around Tampa Bay hailed the decision Friday.

"That's wonderful," Linda Saul-Sena, a former Tampa City Council member, said after hearing the news. "I'm really pleased that they recognized we are on the same side, which is helping women with health care."

Saul-Sena and her 21-year-old daughter joined about 200 others at the regional Planned Parenthood group's annual luncheon Thursday, where supporters raised more than $20,000.

The group was especially energized, largely because of the frustrations with Komen, she said.

Dr. Charles Mahan — an obstetrician and retired dean of the University of South Florida's College of Public Health — said he's glad the two women's health organizations are no longer in opposition.

"There's a huge number of (breast cancer) screenings with the Komen money," he said. "To lose that in this economy would have been just terrible."

The grants totaled $680,000 last year.

The past three days, hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations have poured in to Planned Parenthood — including a $250,000 donation from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Barbara Zdravecky, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said donations have been coming in locally, as well. The regional office received a $300,000 matching grant Thursday from an anonymous donor.

Zdravecky said though the past few days have been tense and disappointing, in the end, she was heartened that Komen listened to the public.

"Obviously the calls and the emails that were sent got a lot of attention," she said.

Earlier Friday, the Komen foundation was still defending its decision. But by noon, its website carried a message from Komen's founder and CEO, Nancy G. Brinker.

"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," it began.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

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