Participation in Komen charity race drops after Planned Parenthood funding fight

The Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure that is taking place Saturday in Washington, D.C., has about one-third fewer participants than last year, according to reports.

Komen races around the country have seen similar declines following the national outcry over the organization's now-reversed decision to stop giving funds to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings.


The controversy became part of the broader war over abortion rights that has raged in Congress since Republicans took control of the House in 2011.

Komen initially justified its decision to pull the screening funds — totaling $680,000 in 2011 — as necessary due to an investigation by House Republicans into Planned Parenthood's funding of abortion services.

Many GOP members of Congress allege that Planned Parenthood funds abortion with public dollars that are meant for women's preventive healthcare, in violation of federal law.

Komen quickly reversed its decision to cut off Planned Parenthood after a backlash from women’s groups and the left, and has donated about $600,000 to Planned Parenthood affiliates this year.

But resentment still lingers among some supporters.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) recently told NPR that he would not attend this year's Race for the Cure.

"Probably an issue for me is an issue of trust and follow-through," he said.

"I wanted to see whether the Komen group will, in fact, fund groups like Planned Parenthood as a grantee."

A team from Honda's office raised $10,000 for the race in 2011, according to a report. 

Last year’s race drew about 37,000 participants, while this year's is expected to have about 25,000.

"Clearly we are seeing that some people may still be staying away because of this issue we had earlier this year," Komen spokeswoman Andrea Rader told the Washington Post.

"But we really hope people won’t look at 30 years of good work and let that be harmed by a few weeks of controversy."

"We’ve apologized for this, and we still need to take care of women in D.C. who need us."