HOBOKEN – Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D – NJ), with Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Michele Jaker, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Affiliated of New Jersey, by his side, announced the refunding of Planned Parenthood by the Susan G. Komen foundation while at Hoboken City Hall on Friday afternoon.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation, a foundation to support breast cancer, reversed its recent decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood after pressure from supporters and activists.
Lautenberg said outside Hoboken City Hall that the “interest of women’s health prevailed over partisan politics.”
Komen’s grants to Planned Parenthood totaled $680,000 in 2011, according to an Associated Press report, and the funds primarily go toward breast exams to low income women. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is most known for its efforts to fight breast cancer and raise awareness.
The group apparently cut its funding after coming under pressure from Republican lawmakers who called for an investigation into how Planned Parenthood spends its money. The Komen Foundation has said it does not donate to groups under investigation, as per a recent change in their policy.
The decision to restore funding is largely symbolic, as Planned Parenthood’s total revenue in 2010 was over $1 billion, according to a National Public Radio report.
Lautenberg wrote a letter to Susan G. Komen Foundation founder and CEO Nancy Brinker urging the group to rethink its decision, and he convinced 25 of his Senate colleagues to sign on to the letter, he said on Friday.
“The light came and they made the change,” Lautenberg said.
The Komen foundation released a statement on its website on Friday. It read, in part: “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. The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners, and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. 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. Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.”
Zimmer said the event happened in Hoboken because Lautenberg was in town to pick up a cake from Carlo’s Bakery – home of the Cake Boss – which is right across the street from City Hall, as part of a Super Bowl bet with Sen. John Kerry (D – MA).
If the Giants lose, he will send the baked goods to Kerry.
The mayor added that the issue was also very important to her, and she said she applauds people who raised their voices to the Komen Foundation, urging them to restore funding.
Rep. Steve Rothman (D – 9th) also stepped forward on Friday in support of Planned Parenthood, releasing a statement against his Republican counterparts.
“We cannot allow attacks from conservative extremists to infringe on woman’s healthcare or a woman’s right to choose,” Rothman said in a statement. “This is a fight to protect the values and ideals that led me to Congress and a fight that I will never back down from.” -- Ray Smith and Adriana Rambay Fernandez