Komen for Cure, Planned Parenthood sparks fly


This morning, a leading force in the fight against breast cancer is under attack for cutting its ties to Planned Parenthood.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure calls it a strategic decision, but critics call it political.

The Komen Foundation is the world's largest breast cancer charity, so when it takes a step like this, it gets noticed. There are so many women who support both of these organizations, the move caused a mini-uproar on the Web and caused a lot of speculation about what was really behind the split.

Planned Parenthood got the news in the form of a phone call to its president, Cecile Richards.

"They said this was a decision -- that they changed their policy, and that we would no longer be able to receive their funding. But there was no conversation. End of story," Richards tells CBS News.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure had been giving Planned Parenthood grants for years -- funding 170,000 clinical breast exams over the past five years.

In a new web video, the Komen Foundation founder said the decision was the result of stringent new eligibility standards: "Regrettably," says Nancy Brinker, "this strategic shift will affect any number of long-standing partners, but we have always done what is right for our organization."

Richards takes a different view. "I think this decision was the result of a political pressure campaign, a kind of bullying effort against the Komen Foundation, trying to get them to break this relationship with Planned Parenthood."

Planned Parenthood's history of providing abortions has earned it some powerful opponents.

"It is the largest abortion provider in the United States. Period," Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said last month.

And Rep. Cliff Stearns (R, Fla.) has launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood's use of taxpayer funds.

The Komen Foundation says that investigation was a factor in its decision. Some Democrats call the investigation a partisan witch hunt that will go nowhere.

"Last time I checked," says Rep. Jackie Speier (D, Calif.), "we were all presumed innocent until proven guilty."

Komen's new vice president for policy is a politician from Georgia who has run on an anti-abortion platform. And that leads many to wonder whether her hiring explains the timing of this move. But the Komen Foundation insists the move was not at all political.

To see the Nancy Cordes report, click on the video in the player above.

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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.