Susan G. Komen for the Cure has quietly resumed funding for Planned Parenthood, two months after the leading U.S. breast cancer charity set off an angry and debilitating debate about abortion rights by cutting off funds to the prominent women's health network.
The Dallas-based Komen foundation said on Friday that its local chapters have awarded grants to at least 17 Planned Parenthood affiliates for breast-cancer screenings and breast-health services for the fiscal year that began on April 1.
The grants are comparable in number and dollar value to what Planned Parenthood received last year, when $680,000 in Komen funds helped about 170,000 women, many of them living on low incomes in areas with few healthcare options.
The resumption of grant funding represented a milestone for efforts by the two well-known women's organizations to rebuild their relationship, at a time when Komen faces new financial challenges after angering donors by first cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and then reversing its decision.
Komen fundraisers have struggled to hit donation targets this year in several states including Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and New York.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a lightning rod for the anti-abortion movement. Activists on both sides of the issue say efforts to cut off public and private funding for the organization have intensified since the 2010 elections, which elevated hundreds of Republican social conservatives to state and federal offices across the United States.
Komen's original decision to eliminate most of its funding for Planned Parenthood came after months of pressure from anti-abortion activists, including Roman Catholic bishops.
The move, disclosed in January, unleashed a wave of angry protest from Komen supporters and others, which forced the charity to reverse its decision days later. The abrupt position change, in turn, disappointed anti-abortion activists who had declared the cut-off of Planned Parenthood funds a victory.
"Planned Parenthood affiliates are grateful for the grants that provide important funding for breast health care," Planned Parenthood's communications vice president Eric Ferrero said in a statement.