"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," Komen Foundation founder and Chief Executive Officer Nancy G. Brinker said in a statement released on Business Wire. "We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not."
She said the original goal was a "fiduciary duty" to the organizations donors by not funding applications made by organizations under investigation. House Republicans are investigating whether Planned Parenthood is using federal funds for abortions.
"We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political," Brinker said. "That is what is right and fair."
"Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer," she said in the statement. "Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood," as well as preserve their eligibility to apply for grants in the future.
"We are enormously grateful that the Komen Foundation has clarified its grant-making criteria, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Komen partners, leaders and volunteers," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "What these past few days have demonstrated is the deep resolve all Americans share in the fight against cancer, and we honor those who are at the helm of this battle."
Richards said the Planned Parenthood-Komen Foundation alliance helped reach vulnerable populations, such as low-income women, African-American women, and Latinas, "especially in rural areas and underserved communities where Planned Parenthood health centers are their only source of healthcare."
"With Komen Foundation grants, over the past five years, Planned Parenthood health centers provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and more than 6,400 mammogram referrals," she said. "With the outpouring of support over the past week, even more women in need will receive lifesaving breast cancer care."
The Komen Foundation came under a barrage of criticism from its members, politicians and activists after the foundation announced its decision to sever ties with Planned Parenthood earlier this week.
The statement said the foundation would call its network and supporters "to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work."
"We ask for the public's understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve," Brinker said.