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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 jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Statement from Susan G. Komen for the Cure'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. The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.

Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.

Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.

It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone's politics.

Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work. We ask for the public's understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.

We extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support we have received from so many in the past few days and we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.

Komen backs off decision to cut breast screening grant to Planned Parenthood 02/03/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 3, 2012 7:03pm]

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