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UPDATED: Local Organizations React To Controversial Komen Decision

After Susan G. Komen for the Cure stopped giving grants to Planned Parenthood, supporters and detractors are speaking their minds—and their wallets.

Update (11:25 a.m. Friday)—Susan G. Komen for the Cure has reversed its decision to end grants to Planned Parenthood. In a statement released Friday, the organization apologized and said it will amend grant criteria to avoid political pressure.

Despite the national controversy over Susan G. Komen for the Cure ceasing funding for Planned Parenthood, it's business as usual at Planned Parenthood of Maryland.

The Maryland affiliate does not receive grants from the national Komen organization or its Maryland-based affiliate, said spokeswoman ChristieLyn Diller.

Planned Parenthood of Maryland operates a health center in Loch Raven. Diller said the organization has received an uptick in donations and social media messages this week.

"Overwhelmingly the support has been positive to Planned Parenthood," she said.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the well-known breast cancer research charity, announced this week it would cease grants to the reproductive health provider to provide breast health screenings for low-income women, citing its recently-implemented rule that it will no longer fund any organization under investigation by any federal entity. In September, Florida Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns opened a federal investigation into whether Planned Parenthood has used any federal taxpayer money to provide abortions.

According to Planned Parenthood statistics, abortions represent just 3 percent of all health services the group provides.

In a YouTube video posted Wednesday, Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker recast the move as an efficiency decision.

The announcement this week touched off a firestorm of controversy. The national Planned Parenthood organization has raised more money this week than the roughly $600,000 Komen organization gives annually in grants, The Washington Post reports.

Jeffrey Meister, director of administration and legislation for Maryland Right to Life, conceded that $600,000 isn't a big part of Planned Parenthood's more than $1 billion budget, but he said that Komen's move highlights "the true colors of Planned Parenthood." He said that Komen will probably survive the public relations backlash and perhaps even gain anti-abortion donors in the wake of the move.

"What's not often taken into account is the support boycott of pro-lifers," he said.

The Facebook page for the Maryland Komen group shows mixed reviews. Many have posted messages announcing that they will drop their support for the group for bowing to political pressure. Others posted messages of support for the decision.

The Maryland Komen affiliate, based in Towson, has mostly been receiving questions from supporters about the national office decision, and officials there are quick to point out that most of the money they receive is used to fund programs and research directly, including $2.5 million the group spent last year to provide breast care for uninsured and underinsured women.

Though the move won't change anything right away in Maryland, it is part of a "horrifying" trend, said history professor Jean H. Baker, author of Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion, a book that chronicles Planned Parenthood's founder and her early struggles.

"I am surprised that this still continues," she said, noting that abortions are a relatively small portion of the services Planned Parenthood performs.

Founder Margaret Sanger "believed birth control, if it was affordable, successful and efficient would reduce the need for abortions," Baker said.

John L. February 04, 2012 at 07:34 PM
It has been discovered, what Komen has known for a long time, that PP was using the money for abortions, as well as other services, and there was no control or oversight as to how the money was spent. The explanation was not forthcoming, just of lot of rage by the misinformed, now they are back to square one.

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