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Under fire, Komen CEO denies politics in Planned Parenthood cuts

Ambassador Nancy Brinker of the Susan G. Komen Foundation explains the organization's choice to stop funding for Planned Parenthood.

The founder and chief executive for Susan G. Komen for the Cure on Thursday flatly rejected accusations that the organization caved to political pressure in cutting ties to Planned Parenthood, a move that has ignited a firestorm of controversy.

In one of her first live comments since the Tuesday announcement, Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the decision was made to revamp and strengthen the way the organization makes grants.

“This is not a political decision,” Brinker told Mitchell. “We operate from one set of standards every day."

Brinker said Komen’s motivations had been “mischaracterized” and that they stemmed from an overhaul of criteria for awarding funds.

“Many of the grants we were doing with Planned Parenthood do not meet the new standards,” Brinker said.

Her comments were challenged by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who also appeared on the show. Boxer accused Brinker of trying to “change the story,” in which officials first said that Planned Parenthood funds were being cut because of pending investigations.

“This is a complete revisionist comment she is making about why suddenly Planned Parenthood lost this funding,” Boxer said.

Mitchell questioned Brinker about the apparent growing anger over the decision, including a huge swell of response on Facebook and Twitter in which long-time supporters say they’re cutting up pink ribbons, a longtime symbol of the Komen group.

However, Brinker said she’s heard from many who back the decision.

“The responses that we are getting are really, really favorable,” Brinker said.

Planned Parenthood provides abortion, birth control and other health services to women. It had received about $700,000 annually from Komen to provide access to mammograms for low income women. The grants provided screening services to about 170,000 women in the past five years, Boxer said.
The Komen foundation, known for its Race for the Cure fundraisers, has collected more than $1.9 billion for breast cancer research and programs. It has affiliates in more than 100 U.S. cities and 50 countries.