Heather McGregor
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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December 30, 2012
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Top 10 news stories, No. 6: Aspen Komen refuses to cut Planned Parenthood funding

In early February, the Aspen affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure defied the national Komen organization's policy to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. The Aspen affiliate insisted on continuing to fund the Planned Parenthood clinic in Glenwood Springs.

After trying to obtain an exemption from a nationwide Komen policy announced in December 2011 that called for cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood, the Aspen affiliate formally rebelled in a public statement on Feb. 3.

"Halting funding to Planned Parenthood is contrary to our mission," the Komen Aspen board of directors stated in an advertisement placed in the Post Independent and The Aspen Times that day. "Unanimously, we have decided to continue our long-standing relationship with funding breast cancer services to Planned Parenthood."

The Komen Aspen affiliate typically grants the local Planned Parenthood clinic $40,000 a year for breast-related health care, said Monica McCafferty, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains spokeswoman.

In 2011, the Glenwood Springs Planned Parenthood clinic used Komen funding to educate 850 women on breast self-examinations, perform more than 300 breast exams, and refer about 40 women for mammograms and help pay for those tests, McCafferty said.

In December 2011, the national Komen headquarters said Planned Parenthood would no longer be eligible for $700,000 a year in grant funding nationwide under a new policy that barred the foundation from donating to any agency that is under investigation by local, state or federal government.

U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., had launched a congressional inquiry into Planned Parenthood spending and reporting. Planned Parenthood is frequently under attack by state and federal lawmakers because it provides abortions at many of its clinics, including the one in Glenwood Springs.

But facing rebellion from Komen affiliates in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and other states, the national Komen for the Cure organization reversed its Planned Parenthood funding policy later on Feb. 3 and issued an apology.

In the wake of the controversy, the Aspen Komen affiliate dealt with a barrage of complaints, including supporters threatening to pull out of Komen fundraising events.

"We are responding to every single one of them, explaining that this is where we stood," said Logan Hood, executive director of the Komen Aspen affiliate, that day.

Planned Parenthood saw more controversy later in the year.

For the season of Lent, from Feb. 22 to April 7, local residents spent 40 consecutive days protesting abortion in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic. Counter-protesters also appeared in support of the clinic's services.

On March 14, the Glenwood Springs clinic was one of three locations in the state where the Colorado Personhood Coalition launched a statewide petition drive for a "personhood" ballot initiative, after the Colorado Supreme Court rejected an effort by Planned Parenthood to keep the initiative off the ballot.

The petition drive failed in August after the state Title Board ruled that there were not enough valid signatures to put the question on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

And in December, the Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) singled out the local Planned Parenthood clinic from the list of two dozen local human service agencies to receive a total of $430,000 in county-funded grants for 2013.

Planned Parenthood was among the agencies recommended for funding by the county's Human Services Commission, but the BOCC deleted the $5,000 line for the clinic, citing its access to funding from the national Planned Parenthood organization.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky clarified that none of the county's past grant funding for Planned Parenthood has gone to abortion services.

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The Post Independent Updated Dec 30, 2012 12:18AM Published Dec 30, 2012 12:12AM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.