In a statement posted on its website and a video on YouTube late Wednesday, Komen said its action had been "mischaracterized" so the organization needed to "set the record straight."
In the video, Nancy G. Brinker, who founded and leads the organization, said that the decision was made as part of a broad effort to use donations more efficiently.
The foundation regretted the impact of its new policy on groups such as Planned Parenthood, Brinker said. But she denied politics played any role and called accusations against Komen "scurrilous" and a "dangerous distraction" from the battle against breast cancer.
"Susan G. Komen will always fight for and serve the poeple who need us the most. We won't rest until every woman — rich, poor, insured or uninsured — can face a life without breast cancer," said Brinker, whose sister died from breast cancer. "That was my promise to my sister and my promise to you."
The foundation, known for its pink ribbon campaigns and Race for the Cure fundraisers, is a powerhouse in the world of breast cancer in the United States, raising billions of dollars for breast cancer research, care and advocacy.
"In the breast cancer world, they're huge," said Susan Wood of George Washington University. "They raise lots of money for breast cancer research and access to mammograpy and access to other breast cancer screening and breast health activities."
So Wood and many other women's health advocates are furious about Komen's decision to cut off funding to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
"It was really a shock and obviously distressing and very disappointing," Cecile Richards told NPR's Julie Rovner. Since the controversy erupted, donations to Planned Parenthood have surged, the group said.
But this isn't the first time the well-known breast cancer advocacy group has been the focus of controversy.
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