Komen's reversal

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

February 3, 2012 1:22:26 PM PST
So was it cooler heads that prevailed? Or did public anger and criticism have an impact? Or was it both?

The decision by one of the nation's leading breast cancer awareness groups - the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation - to reverse its decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screening is being hailed today by women's health activists across the country.

Critics of the original decision said that Komen was buckling to anti-abortion forces, although the Foundation didn't phrase it like that when it said it didn't want to fund organizations that were "under investigation."

Planned Parenthood is "under investigation" - by Republicans in Congress who want to defund it.

Now, Komen's leaders have come out strongly - apologizing for causing all the painful fuss, and promising to make decisions like this in the future without political considerations. If a group is "under investigation" for criminal activity, the organization said, then it would not receive any more funds.

Several Komen board members had resigned or threatened to resign after the initial decision - including a well-known New York City radiologist - Dr. Kathy Plesser. Today, in a statement, Dr. Plesser said she had reversed her decision to resign when Komen reversed its decision about Planned Parenthood.

"I am delighted that Komen has reversed its decision on defunding Planned Parenthood," said Dr. Plesser. "I look forward to remaining on the board and helping to advise the organization on medical issues."

It's probably not coincidence that the success of Komen has paralleled the incredible progress in the survival rates of breast cancer patients.

The annual breast cancer marches are hugely successful - and the group says its annual revenues reach nearly $350 million.

That's a lot of money - and now the spotlight is being shined on where that money goes. Komen reportedly says 24 percent of its funds go to research. And 20 percent goes to fundraising and administration. THAT'S a lot of money as well. $70 million to keep the organization going?

And then there's the political question. Should the people at Komen who made this decision resign? There are some who say they should, including the country's most renowned bioethicist, Dr. Art Caplan. One of the driving forces behind the Planned Parenthood decision was, according to reports, Karen Handel - hired last year as Komen's vice president for public policy. She's also a failed candidate for Governor of Georgia, and during her campaign she pushed her anti-abortion views and often blasted Planned Parenthood.

We might look back at all this and realize that abortion politics came this-close to injecting itself into the 2012 Presidential campaign. And with all the other problems facing this country, is abortion the defining issue here?

I'm just sayin'.

We'll have the latest on the controversy, tonight at 11.

We'll also have the story of how the NYPD is beefing up security at Israeli properties in our area - after a warning from the Israeli government to be on alert for possible attacks from Iran.

Also at 11, we're keeping tabs on two big stories we reported as breaking news last night - the alleged stalking of New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman by a woman whom he apparently already paid thousands of dollars; and the deadly police shooting in the Bronx, when cops chased an 18-year-old unarmed man into his apartment, struggled with him, and then shot him in front of his 6-year-old brother and his grandmother.

The victim's family is now furious and demanding some answers.

And Nina Pineda tonight has the story of a family moving to Brooklyn from San Francisco, and paying a local real estate broker a $3,000 fee to rent an apartment. But when the apartment fell through, the broker didn't return the money. So Nina spent lots of time - and a pair of running shoes - trying to track the guy down. Her 7 On Your Side report, is at 11.

We'll also have the latest from Indianapolis, where the Giants are prepping to take on the Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl. Rob Powers leads our coverage.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's weekend AccuWeather forecast. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.


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