Komen still roiled by Planned Par­ent­hood flap

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY JAMIE STENGLE

DAL­LAS | At least five high-rank­ing ex­ec­u­tives with the Su­san G. Komen for the Cure breast can­cer char­ity have re­signed in the af­ter­math of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s decision, promptly re­scinded, to elim­i­nate its fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood.

The depar­tures in­clude three of­fi­cials from Komen’s Dal­las head­quar­ters, as well as CEOS of af­fil­i­ate groups in Ore­gon and New York City. Although some of the ex­ec­u­tives cited per­sonal rea­sons, the res­ig­na­tions sug­gest that Komen is still in tur­moil, even af­ter restor­ing the money.

Komen spokes­woman Les­lie Aun said she could not speak to in­di­vid­u­als’ rea­sons for leav­ing, but ac­knowl­edged the ef­fects of the furor among sup­port­ers.

“Ob­vi­ously, we know some folks are up­set. We’ve cer­tainly seen that,” Ms. Aun said. “We know peo­ple have been up­set by re­cent events, but most re­ally do rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of our work.”

Res­ig­na­tions be­gan about a month ago. Chris Mcdon­ald, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and chief ex­ec­u­tive of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Ore­gon and south­west Washington af­fil­i­ate, an­nounced that she would leave at the end of April.

She said her decision wasn’t “pred­i­cated by any one event,” but that ac­tions by na­tional head­quar­ters af­fected her think­ing.

“De­spite our deep frus­tra­tion about the dis­trac­tion that our or­ga­ni­za­tion head­quar­ters’ ac­tions caused, I was proud that our af­fil­i­ate took a strong stand against the politi­ciza­tion of the fight to im­prove women’s health,” Ms. Mcdon­ald said in a Feb. 25 state­ment posted on the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s web­site.

She did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a call from the As­so­ci­ated Press.

News emerged in late Jan­uary that Komen had de­cided to stop giv­ing money to Planned Par­ent­hood for breast-screen­ing ser­vices be­cause Planned Par­ent­hood was the fo­cus of a con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The or­ga­ni­za­tion also noted that Planned Par­ent­hood gen­er­ally does not per­form mam­mo­grams it­self, but merely gives re­fer­rals.

Af­ter a three-day firestorm of crit­i­cism, Komen reversed course.

Some Komen af­fil­i­ates, in­clud­ing Ms. Mcdon­ald’s, were among those that pub­licly op­posed the pol­icy change that cut off grants for Planned Par­ent­hood.

In the days af­ter the re­ver­sal, Komen pol­icy chief Karen Han­del re­signed. She had op­posed abor­tion as a Re­pub­li­can can­di­date for Ge­or­gia gov­er­nor and had be­come a tar­get of those an­gry about the decision to halt fund­ing to Planned Par­ent­hood.

In Dal­las, the three res­ig­na­tions were Ka­t­rina Mcghee, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer; Nancy Mac­gre­gor, vice pres­i­dent of global net­works; and Joanna Newcomb, di­rec­tor of af­fil­i­ate strat­egy and plan­ning.

Ms. Mcghee an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary that she would be leav­ing May 4 “for per­sonal rea­sons” and be­cause it was “time to make a change.” Ms. Mc­gre­gor will leave in June, and Ms. Newcomb de­parted at the end of Fe­bru­ary.

The As­so­ci­ated Press left mes­sages Thurs­day for Ms. Mcghee and Ms. Mac­gre­gor. Ms. Newcomb de­clined to com­ment.

Dr. Dara Richard­son-heron, CEO of Komen’s New York City af­fil­i­ate, said Tues­day that she will leave April 27. Her af­fil­i­ate was also crit­i­cal of the Planned Par­ent­hood decision, but she did not cite that in a let­ter posted on the web­site, say­ing only that she wanted to pur­sue “new ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties” and that leav­ing “was not an easy decision.”

Vern Cal­houn, a spokesman for the New York af­fil­i­ate, said Dr. Richard­son-heron was not speak­ing to re­porters.


A small group of women protest Feb. 7 out­side the Su­san G. Komen for the Cure head­quar­ters in Dal­las in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the breast can­cer char­ity’s short-lived cut­off of fund­ing to Planned Par­ent­hood. Sev­eral high-rank­ing ex­ec­u­tives have since left or in­tend to leave the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

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