Published: February 3, 2012 at 3:50 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation backed down from its decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion and birth control services, following a massive outcry by supporters of the world’s largest breast cancer charity.
Komen’s decision had thrust the group into America’s deeply politicized debate over abortion rights and its apology on Friday may not satisfy the more vocal advocates on either side.
Planned Parenthood supporters, including local directors within Komen’s ranks, say Komen had come under pressure from anti-abortion activists. Social conservatives had lauded the move to disengage from Planned Parenthood and said it would win Komen new supporters.
“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives,” Komen said in a statement on Friday signed by its board of directors and its founder Nancy Brinker.
Komen had said earlier this week it would cease to fund grants for breast cancer screening to Planned Parenthood under new rules to tighten eligibility. The guidelines excluded groups under investigation by U.S. authorities and Planned Parenthood is the subject of a probe by U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Republican from Florida who opposes abortion.
Planned Parenthood provides a variety of services – including reproductive healthcare, sex education, cancer screenings and information on sexually transmitted diseases – but its abortion role has put it at the forefront of the national debate.
Komen’s move prompted a protest campaign on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that reached a fever pitch on Thursday. Local Komen chapters sent letters to headquarters opposing the move, and by late Thursday night, its board convened a special meeting.