Komen for the Cure announced an end this week to its grants to Planned Parenthood for screening and education programs. By way of a defense, the nation's most prominent breast-cancer organization said it had adopted new funding standards: organizations facing investigations by local, state, or federal authorities would be cut off.
Since Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) is spearheading a witch hunt against Planned Parenthood, the far-right congressman's unproven allegations are enough to end the cancer-screening grants.
The widely-held assumption has been that Komen's explanation is a thinly-veiled excuse, intended to obscure a politically-motivated decision. The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg reports that the assumptions are well grounded.
[T]hree sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut-off Planned Parenthood. (Komen gives out grants to roughly 2,000 organizations, and the new "no-investigations" rule applies to only one so far.)
The decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization's new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is "pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood." (The Komen grants to Planned Parenthood did not pay for abortion or contraception services, only cancer detection, according to all parties involved.) [...]
Another source directly involved with Komen's management activities told me that when the organization's leaders learned of the Stearns investigation, they saw an opportunity. "The cart came before the horse in this case," said the source, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity. "The rule was created to give the board of directors the excuse to stop the funding of Planned Parenthood. It was completely arbitrary. If they hadn't come up with this particular rule, they would have come up with something else in order to separate themselves from Planned Parenthood."
Goldberg added that Komen's decision was so contentious within the organization that Mollie Williams, the group's top public health official, "resigned in protest immediately following the Komen board's decision to cut off Planned Parenthood."
In the meantime, Planned Parenthood supporters have rallied behind the group, contributing $650,000 in 24 hours, which is "nearly enough to replace last year's Komen funding."
Also keep an eye on Washington today. Capitol Hill sources told me last night that there will be some additional word from Democratic lawmakers outraged by Komen's decision.