Breast cancer charity Susan G Komen For The Cure was hit by a PR controversy involving Planned Parenthood in 2012 – but what happened?
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and shines a spotlight on the struggles those battling the disease face, as well as raising awareness of fund research. Annually, Susan G Komen For The Cure encourages the public to embark on a fundraising walk.
Sign-ups for the foundation’s More Than Pink walk have begun this month, which has unfortunately shone a spotlight on a controversy that had a significant impact on the foundation’s finances.
Susan G Komen controversy kicked off over Planned Parenthood move
In January 2012, Susan G Komen For The Cure made a significant PR faux pas when it cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. This was apparently in response to the congressional inquiry into Planned Parenthood and its alleged use of federal funding to perform abortions. While Planned Parenthood received federal funding at the time, money could not be used to perform abortions.
When the foundation’s decision to pull funding for Planned Parenthood was made public, CNN reported it was a result of Komen not awarding funds to any organisation being investigated by local, state or federal authorities.
Some, however, alleged the Komen foundation cut funding to Planned Parenthood in a bid to bow to anti-abortion groups. Komen said the change wasn’t politically motivated but rather an efficiency move.
Komen foundation reverses Planned Parenthood decision
Things only got worse for the foundation when news of its decision to axe Planned Parenthood funding circulated.
On Friday, February 3, 2012, the foundation decided to reverse its decision to block most of its grants to Planned Parenthood. Founder and chief executive Nancy G Brinker said in a statement, as reported by NPR: “We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt on our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.
“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 only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer.”
The Los Angeles Times reported the financial impact of the controversy on the Susan G Komen foundation was significant and lasting. Although the group reversed the decision within days, the first financial reports from the following year saw the foundation’s figures down more than $77 million, or 22 per cent of its income.
Komen official quits over controversy
Just days after the foundation announced its plans to continue funding Planned Parenthood, vice-president for public policy Karen Handel quit.
“I’m a professional. … My number one priority is the fight against breast cancer, our mission and the women that we serve. The only place for politics in all of this came from Planned Parenthood – when they launched this vicious attack on a great organization and perpetrated what was nothing short of a shakedown to coerce a private entity to give them grants,” Handel told CNN affiliate WXIA in Atlanta.
The Focus has reached out to the Susan G Komen For The Cure for comment.
More Than Pink Walk Or Race returns
Despite any controversy, Susan G Komen For The Cure still has plenty of supporters. In October the organisation is expecting many supporters to get involved with fundraising efforts as the More Than Pink Walk Or Race For The Cure returns.
This is the first time the charity event has taken place in-person since 2019, having been interrupted by covid-19 and the global lock-down. For those unable to participate in the event, Komen is holding a virtual Walk Where You Are event on Saturday, October 29, 2022.
To find out how to participate in the More Than Pink event, head to the Komen Foundation website.