After three days of a relentless social media onslaught against the Susan G. Komen decision to eliminate grants to Planned Parenthood and to sever ties with the increasingly controversial organization, Komen has reversed its decision and has agreed to work with Planned Parenthood to ensure that breast cancer screenings remain available to women in need.
The decision comes after concerned individuals took to the internet, demonstrating once again the power of social media sites in shaping political conversation. Across sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, women and those in support of women’s health chided Susan G. Komen, the nation’s leading breast cancer advocacy organization, for its decision. They vowed not to participate in Komen’s annual walks or to donate to those organizations that chose to participate. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $250,000 to Planned Parenthood and many in political positions were calling for a reversal of the decision.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, welcomed the offer to continue working with Komen and thanked those individuals who donated to Planned Parenthood over the past few days for their show of support. Donations were reported to have surpassed $900,000.
"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,” Nancy Brinker, Komen’s founder, said in a statement released on Friday.
Komen vowed to "ensure that politics has no place in our grant process" by reviewing its recently updated funding criteria. At the start of the scandal John D. Raffaelli, a Komen board member, went on the record attesting that recent changes to funding criteria were designed to allow Susan G. Komen to sever ties with Planned Parenthood, which has recently been under fire from Republican presidential candidates and is currently being investigated by Rep. Cliff Sterns (R-Fla.).
The scandal casts light on the continued politicalization of women’s health. While Komen has continued to deny it has been influenced by anti-abortion groups and lobbyists, the timing of the charity’s initial decision to cut funding suggests otherwise.
With the 2012 presidential race heating up, it has become apparent that the nation continues to be highly polarized on abortion and other women’s health issues. The social media assault of Komen is a wakeup call for Republican candidates hoping to gain the party’ nomination to ensure the safety of women’s health care or be prepared for a PR nightmare.
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