Komen Foundation In Contortions Over Justifying Planned Parenthood Decision

February 2, 2012 12:35 p.m.

Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure defended her organization’s decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood on Thursday in a testy interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

Though the Komen Foundation announced that it would award no new contracts to Planned Parenthood clinics, Brinker denied that Komen was actually “defunding” Planned Parenthood, a technical point based on the fact that a few grants have yet to expire.“We are not defunding Planned Parenthood,” Brinker told Mitchell, “We have three grants that will go on this year, and they will probably be eligible for the next grant cycle.”

Mitchell, a longtime supporter of the Komen Foundation announced in September that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. “But I come to you today expressing the anger of a lot of people, channeling through them, you see it on Twitter, you see it everywhere,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also asked Brinker about the role controversial Komen Vice President for Policy Karen Handel played in the decision. Handel, who ran for governor of Georgia in 2010 promising to defund Planned Parenthood, was named in a report at The Atlantic as being behind the decision.

“Well, let me just for the record tell you, Karen did not have anything to do with this decision,” Brinker responded. “This was decided at the board level and also by our mission, Andrea.” Binker said that the decision was based on rejiggering the grant program to expand help for women. “Everything that we get up and do every day is about the mission, to provide women, vulnerable populations, with care, treatment, and screening.” This explanation omits the one given Tuesday, when the organization attributed the decision to the fact that Planned Parenthood was under investigation by Congress and they would no longer give grants to organizations under governmental investigation. Throughout the interview, Brinker denied any political motivation.

The two explanations run counter to the accusations from pro-choice groups and lawmakers, including 22 Senators who signed a letter asking Brinker to reverse a partisan decision. Some within the Foundation are also rebelling against the decision. A top health official at the organization, Mollie Williams, resigned in protest. On Thursday, a second resignation appeared to be in the works. Dr. Kathy Plesser, a Manhattan radiologist on the medical advisory board of the New York chapter said she would step down if the decision was not reversed.

Brinker’s assertion that the decision was their “mission” and unrelated to the political leanings of its higher-ups also runs counter to The Atlantic’s report Thursday morning that, according to sources at the Komen Foundation, the charity’s leadership had been looking for a way to sever ties with Planned Parenthood for a while, and that they saw Rep. Cliff Stearns’s (R-FL) investigation into Planned Parenthood as an excuse for making the long-pondered break with the organization.

Watch a clip of the interview:

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