"We will continue to fund existing grants including those of Planned Parenthood and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants." Nancy Brinker, Founder and head of the Susan G. Komen Foundation
In other words, "Oops."
It didn't take long for the Komen Foundation to reverse itself and start trying to make amends with the public. In a breathtaking period of just hours Komen had gone from revered to reviled. The foundation was bombarded with irate emails and shredded pink ribbons after it announced that it was making Planned Parenthood ineligible for new grants. Its director of Community Health Programs, Molly Williams resigned in protest. Twenty-six US senators called on Komen to recant. Most importantly the foundation was no doubt looking at the very real threat of a massive short fall in donations.
Brinkman, while making the announcement, maintained the original decision was not done for political reasons, or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. No one is buying that bilge of course and didn't when she first said it on MSNBC before the reversal. Her own people had said the grants were cut because of a congressional investigation. One that just happened to be led by anti choice advocates who have had it in for Planned Parenthood for ages.
The newly amended Komen policy says that for an organization to be disqualified the investigation must be, "criminal and conclusive in nature." This would rule out hysterical witch hunts by radical conservatives that should rate nothing more than a page eight mention in the National Enquirer.
The AP quotes an anonymous source "with direct knowledge" of the original decision as saying the now abandoned criteria was put into place with the deliberate intention of targeting Planned Parenthood. That source added the driving force behind the entire debacle was Karen Handel. Handel, the failed gubernatorial candidate from Georgia and now senior VP at Komen, is a vocal opponent of all things Planned Parenthood. Brinker denies Handel had anything to do with it. No one is buying that either.
Meanwhile Planned Parenthood raked in $400,000 in small donations and a $250,000 pledge from New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Its head, Cecile Richards was jubilant. "This compassionate outcry in support of those most in need rose above political, ideological and cultural divides and will surely be recognized as one of our nation's better moments during a contentious political time," she said.
Of course this isn't over. There is nothing to guarantee that Komen will extend new grants to Planned Parenthood when the current ones run out. As long as the nefarious Karen Handel is still on the payroll at the foundation there is no telling what could happen.
What is certain at the moment is that even as Nancy Brinker denies any of this is political she issued this statement. "We want to apologize to the American people for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives."
She can apologize all she wants and continue to claim the decision wasn't a political one, but simply a merry mix up, however the damage to the Susan G. Komen Foundation's reputation might be long lasting. No one in the foreseeable future will be able to look at those pink ribbons, or see videos of those 5K races without thinking about what went down this week.
And frankly it won't be a pleasant memory for anyone.