Komen's Nancy Brinker: "I made some mistakes"

nancy brinker CBS/EARLY SHOW

Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File
Nancy Brinker, the founder and CEO of leading breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, said Wednesday she "made some mistakes" surrounding her organization's widely criticized decision to defund Planned Parenthood.

"I made some mistakes," Brinker wrote in a letter to the Washington Post's Sally Quinn, in response to an open letter Quinn had posted on her blog about the incident.

"In retrospect, we have learned a lot and must now rebuild the trust that so many want to have in us, and respond to the many thousands who continue to believe in our mission and do what we do best: the funding of cutting-edge science and to bring that work to our communities to help the hundreds of thousands of women we serve each year," she wrote.

Komen has come under intense scrutiny since announcing last week that it would be pulling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of grants to the women's health organization Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening and preventative education.

The foundation reversed the decision after only a few days, but was roundly criticized for the way it handled the matter and is now trying to rebuild its reputation as a premier charity for women's health issues.

Komen initially defended the move as part of an ongoing effort to exact "stronger performance criteria for our grantees," a move many saw as way to defund Planned Parenthood.

Karen Handel, a top Komen executive and a vocal pro-life advocate who ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor of Georgia, resigned from the charity after facing criticism for pushing the short-lived policy.

"I've seen many commentators suggest that the swift reaction to our decision is an indicator of something larger and more dangerous in our society -- culture wars, if you will, or the feeling that women's health care is being sacrificed on the altar of political ideologies," Brinker wrote in her letter. "If I have learned nothing else from our experience of the past week, it is that we in women's health organizations must be absolutely true to our core missions, and avoid even the appearance of bias or judgment in our decisions."

Read the full text of the letter below:

Dear Sally,

Thank you for your open letter to me. I've valued your friendship and support over the years, just as I've valued all of those who have run the races, attended community fundraisers, and otherwise supported our organization and our mission to end breast cancer, and I apologize for how we mishandled this situation.

Because you know our work, Sally, you know that we would never, ever, leave women unserved, especially the low-income, uninsured and underinsured women who are relying on us more than ever in an uncertain economy. My promise to my late sister Suzy was a promise to all women, especially those with no resources to face a breast cancer diagnosis themselves. This is why I was determined to create the Komen foundation 30 years ago and name it in remembrance of my sister as a symbol of action for all the mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends who have struggled against and lost their battles to cancer. That is why we are here and why we've been here for three decades -- to find cures in the laboratories, and to take care of women who need us. That mission and promise has not changed, and our commitment to this cause will never change until we find a cure.

I've seen many commentators suggest that the swift reaction to our decision is an indicator of something larger and more dangerous in our society -- culture wars, if you will, or the feeling that women's health care is being sacrificed on the altar of political ideologies. If I have learned nothing else from our experience of the past week, it is that we in women's health organizations must be absolutely true to our core missions, and avoid even the appearance of bias or judgment in our decisions.

I made some mistakes. In retrospect, we have learned a lot and must now rebuild the trust that so many want to have in us, and respond to the many thousands who continue to believe in our mission and do what we do best: the funding of cutting-edge science and to bring that work to our communities to help the hundreds of thousands of women we serve each year.

Sally, again, I have been grateful for your support over these 30 years and for the commitment of all of those who have called or written to pledge their continued support. I apologize to all who are disappointed in us, and will work hard to restore your trust.

Very truly yours,

Nancy G. Brinker

Founder and CEO

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

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