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Why the New Planned Parenthood Controversy Raises Old Questions

Feb 3 2012
The world is waking up to a conflict pro-life women have faced for years.

If you've been paying attention to recent events involving Planned Parenthood and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, you probably have whiplash by now.

First, Komen—the world's best-known breast-cancer-fighting organization—decided to stop giving funds to Planned Parenthood. Two reasons were given: Komen's policy against supporting organizations under investigation, and the fact that PP does mammogram referrals rather than actual mammograms. Said Komen founder Nancy Brinker, "We have decided not to fund, wherever possible, pass-through grants. We were giving them money, they were sending women out for mammograms. What we would like to have are clinics where we can directly fund mammograms."

That story was greeted with a storm of protest by the pro-choice movement, and loud cheers from pro-lifers. Many of these pro-lifers, who had long been deterred by the PP connection from giving to Komen, started opening their wallets and checkbooks for the organization for the first time.

Then, this morning, Komen released an apology. Their official statement read, in part: "Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political …. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities."

(The investigation in question deals with, among other things, covering up and even enabling the exploitation of minors—an accusation that has dogged Planned Parenthood for many years. If that's not criminal, I'm really not sure what is.)

While pro-choicers celebrated, many pro-lifers rushed to stop their checks. But wait, say some—it's not quite that simple. The Post's Greg Sargent wrote early this afternoon, "I just got off the phone with a Komen board member, and he confirmed that the announcement does not mean that Planned Parenthood is guaranteed future grants—a demand he said would be 'unfair' to impose on Komen."

Pro-life activist and blogger Jill Stanek added on her own site, "[Komen's] statement represents nothing new …. Nancy Brinker had already stated they would continue to fund Planned Parenthood's existing grants through 2012 (one through 2013) …. This is Komen's attempt to get the abortion mafia off their backs."

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