If Komen for the Cure hoped its Planned Parenthood controversy would be a one-day story, it has to be terribly disappointed. If anything, the furor is intensifying.
One of yesterday’s more striking developments came when Komen officials changed their story when explaining why they cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.
Komen had said the decision was the result of newly adopted criteria barring grants to organizations under investigation – affecting Planned Parenthood because of an inquiry by a Republican congressman.
On Thursday, Komen President Elizabeth Thompson told reporters that the funding decision was unrelated to the investigation into whether Planned Parenthood was illegally using federal funds to pay for abortions.
Komen founder Nancy Brinker said the organization wants to support groups that directly provide breast health services, such as mammograms. She noted that Planned Parenthood was providing only mammogram referrals.
As a rule, when an organization is struggling to keep its story straight, it’s not a good sign.
In the case of Komen’s shifting rationales, critics weren’t exactly persuaded. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), said the new explanation was tantamount to “revisionist history,” adding, “This new reason is so obviously fake that you’d have to be born today to believe it.”
Incoherence, however, is only part of Komen’s troubles at this point.
The Planned Parenthood decision has caused widespread dissension within the organization, causing all seven Komen Race for the Cure Foundation affiliates in California to denounce the national group’s move. Some additional foundation officials are also resigning in protest.
The controversy has also captured the attention of the Senate Democratic caucus, with 26 senators, led by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) co-authoring a letter to the foundation, urging Komen to reconsider. The caucus has been surprisingly aggressive on this – Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) even tweeted Komen’s phone number, urging allies to “call Komen” and ask the foundation “to reverse their damaging and misguided decision.”
The New York Times added a strong editorial on the issue today, calling Komen’s move “a painful betrayal.”
This is a mistake from which Komen will not soon recover.