Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Charity Struggling with Criticism

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Charity Struggling with Criticism

Article excerpt

Leaders of the nation's preeminent breast-cancer charity responded to an onslaught of criticism and reversed gears on Friday, announcing they would abandon plans to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.

The move came just three days after news reports revealed that Susan G. Komen for the Cure was revoking its grants to the women's health organization, citing a congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood.

The dramatic retreat followed a three-day furor that resounded across the Internet, in Congress and -- perhaps most tellingly -- among Komen affiliates who openly rebelled, suggesting the leadership had bowed to pressure from antiabortion groups.

"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," a Komen statement said.

But non-profit experts questioned whether the reversal would leave the Dallas-based organization alienated from both sides: onetime supporters who flocked to Internet and social-media sites to denounce the funding cut, as well as social conservatives, who first applauded the cut and then reacted with outrage to what many saw as Komen's surrender to pro-choice advocates.

"Shaking this off will be difficult if not impossible," said Rikki Abzug, a professor at Ramapo College who specializes in non- profit management. "Many women have already started donating to other organizations instead of Komen, and whether they will go back is hard to say."

Conservatives, Abzug added, "have all the more reason to feel they had their glory moment and then were abandoned. They're not coming back either. Non-profits' stock and trade is trust. Who will feel they can trust Komen now?"

Ruth Dugan, president of the board of Gilda's Club Northern New Jersey, thinks Komen "will certainly survive this," although she added, "There's no question people have been offended."

The executive director of New Jersey Right to Life said antiabortion advocates are even angrier now than they were when they first learned Komen had given grants to Planned Parenthood.

"People are already responding that they're never going to get another penny from us," said Marie Tasy. …

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