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Susan G. Komen halts grants to Planned Parenthood

February 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Breast exams could start costing some women more, all because of a major rift between two national organizations.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the nation's leading breast cancer charity, is ending its partnership with Planned Parenthood affiliates. The change will mean a cutoff of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams.

Both organizations have assisted millions of women, with nearly $70,000 in Komen grants going to breast cancer health last year alone.

A debate about abortion is said to be linked to their dispute.

Planned Parenthood says the move results from Komen bowing to pressure from anti-abortion activists. However, Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress - a probe launched by a conservative Republican who was urged to act by anti-abortion groups.

Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun said the charity recently adopted criteria that bars grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities.

Two Democrats in Congress - Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Rep. Michael Honda of California - issued statements denouncing Komen's action.

Anti-abortion groups, in contrast, welcomed the news. The Alliance Defense Fund praised Komen "for seeing the contradiction between its lifesaving work and its relationship with an abortionist that has ended millions of lives."

Planned Parenthood says its centers performed more than four million breast exams over the past five years, including nearly 170,000 as a result of Komen grants.

Komen, founded in 1982, has invested more than $1.9 billion since then in breast-cancer research, health services and advocacy. Its Race for the Cure fundraising events have become a global phenomenon.

Although popular, Komen has been a target of anti-abortion groups since it began its partnerships with Planned Parenthood in 2005.

"This is a very disappointing decision and frustrating because ultimately women and families that need care will be negatively impacted," said Celina Vasquez of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.

Planned Parenthood said Wednesday that it received more than $400,000 from 6,000 donors in the 24 hours after news broke that its affiliates would be losing grants for breast screenings from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer foundation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.