Backlash swells against Komen over Planned Parenthood split

The firestorm surrounding the Susan G. Komen foundation intensified Thursday with a coordinated attack from congressional Democrats and high-profile dissent from within the Komen organization.

Komen's decision to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood has sparked deep anger on the left, as well as an outpouring of support for Planned Parenthood. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for example, said Thursday that he will match the next $250,000 in donations Planned Parenthood receives.

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Twenty-six Democratic senators signed a letter urging Komen to restore its grants to Planned Parenthood and accusing the charity of putting women's health at risk to serve a political agenda.

"It would be tragic if any woman — let alone thousands of women — lost access to these potentially life-saving screenings because of a politically motivated attack," the letter states.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) is gathering signatures in the House for a similar letter.

Komen is also facing criticism from within its own ranks.

The top official in Komen's Los Angeles chapter is resigning over the decision to cut off Planned Parenthood, according to the city's CBS affiliate. That announcement came on the heels of a report this morning that said Komen's top public health official quit in protest as soon as the charity decided it would sever its ties to Planned Parenthood.

Also on Thursday, the American Association of University Women said that because of the Planned Parenthood decision, it would not tie its annual conference to Komen's Race for the Cure.

Komen founder Nancy Brinker defended the move in an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, who noted that even longtime Komen supporters were shocked by the Planned Parenthood news.

Brinker said the funding decision has been "mischaracterized" and that it was not politically motivated.

“This is not a political decision,” Brinker said. “We operate from one set of standards every day."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she was "sad" the group cut its ties to Planned Parenthood. But she stopped short of saying the move was politically motivated.

"I don't attribute any motivation; I just don't know why they would do such a thing," Pelosi said at a press conference.

Most of her Democratic colleagues haven't been so willing to withhold judgment.

Komen says its decision was simply a result of its policy against working with organizations that are under investigation by Congress. But that policy is a new one, adopted only after Komen hired Karen Handel as its top policy official. Handel previously ran for governor of Georgia on a platform that included defunding Planned Parenthood.