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Susan Komen U-turn on Planned Parenthood funding cut

03 February 12 21:09
45,000 people participate in a march in aid of breast cancer organised by Susan G Komen for the Cure in Little Rock, Arkansas 16 October 2012

A major US breast cancer charity has reversed a decision to cut funding to reproductive health group Planned Parenthood, after a furious outcry.

Susan G Komen apologised for its move to withdraw support for the prominent US reproductive health organisation.

Critics said the decision to cut breast-screening grants was prompted by pressure from anti-abortion activists.

On Thursday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would donate $250,000 (£158,000) to the women's group.

The breast cancer charity cited new funding eligibility rules as the reason for the cut, which emerged on Tuesday.

Senators' letter

"We want to apologise to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives,'' a statement from Susan G Komen for the Cure said on Friday.

"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."

Komen added that it would review its new conditions for funding to "ensure that politics has no place in our grant process".

Initially the charity said it would no longer fund organisations under investigation.

There is an ongoing congressional inquiry led by Florida Republican Representative Cliff Stearns into whether Planned Parenthood was illegally using federal funds to pay for abortions.

In Friday's statement, Komen said it would amend the criteria to only disqualify organisations under "criminal and conclusive" investigations.

The statement did not address the second reason Komen gave for ending the grants: that Planned Parenthood did not provide mammograms directly and instead referred patients after a breast exam.

Parenthood welcomed the about-turn.

"We are now heartened that we can continue to work in partnership toward our shared commitment to breast health for the most underserved women," its president, Cecile Richards, said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood receives about $700,000 every year from Susan G Komen for the Cure.

The funding cut had prompted a politically charged furore, and a letter signed by more than two dozen US senators urging the charity to reconsider.

"It would be tragic if any woman - let alone thousands of women - lost access to these potentially lifesaving screenings because of a politically motivated attack," the senators wrote.

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