Mitchell Reports | February 02, 2012
>>> women and men across the country are expressing anger and outrage over the susan g. komen 's foundation's decision to end funding to planned parenthood . that funding provided breast screening and other breast services for low-income men and women. and the backlash has been fierce online and on the streets. planned parenthood president cecile richards spoke earlier today.
>> we were very shocked and really surprised. i really hope that they will rethink this decision and that we can become partners again.
>> richards was on with alex wagner in the earlier hour. ambassador nancy brinker is the founder and ceo of susan g. komen for the cure and joins me now. well, the storm has exploded and you've been in this for a long time. you started susan g. komen in 1982 after the death of your sister and in her name and you have raised more money than any other group for breast cancer research , which is why i have to tell you this is shocking for a lot of your supporters. let me tell you what i was confronted with at the gym this morning. a woman came over to me, i had not met her before, gray-haired woman, probably in her 60s, she was wearing a gray t-shirt, and she said, look at my t-shirt. it's inside out. i put it on by accident today. i'm not going to wear it anymore. i've torn the label out. it's a komen t-shirt. these are longtime supporters who have run with you, who have supported you financially and otherwise. so they're asking, how could this have taken place?
>> well, andrea , i frankly think, i don't know, it's a mischaracterization, certainly, of our goals, our mission , and everything that we do. in fact, we haven't defunded planned parenthood . we still have three grants that we've committed to, at least for another year, through the end of the grant cycle.
>> but that's just through the end of the grant cycle. let me put out there first of all, i have have been identified, an outspoken supporter and participant in the races over the years, long before i, myself, ended up being diagnosed with breast cancer , so i want to put that out there. we've known each other a long time as well, both when you were a diplomat at the state department , but i come to you today, expressing the anger of a lot of people.
>> channeling through them, you see it on twitter, you see it everywhere, and the fact is, a lot of people are tracing this back, my colleague, lisa myers , reporting last night on "nightly news," a lot of people are tracing this back to what some found the surprising hiring of karen handel , who ran for governor, who we've seen her statements and her strong support. she said when she was running for office, i am staunchly and unequivocally pro-life. let me be clear, since aim pro -life, i do not support the mission of planned parenthood . the question is, for the bipartisan organization such as yours, which has a broad-based advisory group, why hire a key staff person who is so strongly, fiercely identified against planned parenthood , one of your grantees?
>> well, let me just for the record tell you, karen did not have anything to do with this decision. this was decided at the board level and also by our mission , andrea . everything that we get up and do every day is about the mission , to provide women, vulnerable populations, with care, treatment, and screening. and let me just take a step back for a minute. we are not defunding planned parenthood . we have three grants that will go on this year, and they will probably be eligible for the next grant cycle.
>> but you've said that this is the one group out of 2,000 grantees, planned parenthood is the only group that comes under the rubric of this new policy, which is to not fund any organization that is under investigation. and your investigation, from congressman sterns, many believe is trumped up.
>> but there are other investigations in states, number one.
>> they're always the target of an investigation. that's the way --
>> the investigation isn't the only issue, andrea . in 2010 , we set about creating excellence in our grants, not just in our community grants, but in our science grants, putting metrics, outcomes, and measures to them. so that we can translate all of the science that we funded over 30 years. part of it includes taking these grants into communities and being excellent grant givers. many of the grants we were doing with planned parenthood do not meet new standards of criteria for how we can measure our results and effectiveness in communities. that is not to say that if they did meet those criteria, they would not be --
>> their supporters say they are the only ones that have been singled out among these thousands.
>> that's not true. that's not true.
>> and that their grants for breast screening have nothing to do with any contraceptive or abortion counseling.
>> it's not --
>> that they separate this funding completely.
>> the issue -- that's not the issue. because that's not our issue. our issue is grant excellence. they do pass-through grants with their screening grants. they send people to other facilities. we want to do more direct service grants. you know, we contacted them in the fall, because we've been a longtime partner of planned parenthood , almost 20 years.
>> i know.
>> we've given them over $9 million. many of our grants worked for a long period of time. this is not -- this is about the restructure of our grant program. now, as an ngo and as a leader in the breast cancer space, we have an obligation to the community we serve, to donors, and to this country to translate cancer care in the way we know how.
>> what do you do about the fact that donors are pulling back? some people would say that win mean, the anger that's being expressed is going to hit you in the pocketbook. you have worked so hard to create a bipartisan organization. look at your facebook page. your facebook page has people cutting pink ribbons in half.
>> well, andrea --
>> your branding is at take.
>> all i can tell you is that the responses we're getting are very, very favorable. people who have bothered to read the material, who have bothered to understand the issues. again, we work for a mission , every day of our lives. and our job now is to translate cancer therapy into usable types of therapies that can be accessible for people --
>> aren't the most vulnerable women going to be affected by this? planned parenthood --
>> we are not giving less money in the communities where we're giving money. let me just set the record straight , where we are giving money in these communities, we are not taking it back. we will with some of them go to direct service providers. but we still have these grants in place with planned parenthood , in places where there aren't direct service providers, and dher good grants and they work with us. but unless we have a way, again, to measure grants, to create metrics, outcomes in ways that we can say, this works in in community, with this vulnerable population, this is what will work. these are the barriers, this is how it works. that is our only mission to cure breast cancer .
>> are you going to put out the evidence that you have that there's been anything flawed in the way they've delivered services to --
>> all we're doing is explaining, again, to our mission , what the criteria for new grants and community-based grants are, for our organization, for the time we are. many of the grants were education oriented. we don't need to do that kind of education anymore. we've done it for 30 years. now we need to translate this care into usable clinical care in communities. that means that if a person's screened, we need to follow. we need to follow-up the screening. did something happen. once they go through the planned parenthood program, they also have to come to us for additional therapy and care. we are trying to advise our community grant program. and we're doing it, and they've been a longtime partner of ours, we've notified them of this change, and frankly, we've been very private about it. and we have not said that we won't accept grants who meet our criteria.
>> ambassador nancy brinker , thank you very much.
>> thanks, andrea .