(CNN) – The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation revealed Tuesday it was cutting funds to Planned Parenthood, sparking an outcry from abortion rights advocates blaming “political pressure” and praise from an anti-abortion group.
The major breast cancer research group cut funds to the prominent family planning organization after Planned Parenthood has come under increasing scrutiny from Congress over how it provides abortion services. The Komen Foundation gave few details on the reasons behind the decision, attributing the announcement to "changes in priorities and policies" and the need to "most fully advance [its] mission."
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"It is critical to underscore that the women we serve in communities remain our priority. We are working directly with Komen Affiliates to ensure there is no interruption or gaps in services for women who need breast health screening and services,” the group said in a statement.
The Komen Foundation did not respond to repeated requests for more information about the decision.
Nancy Brinker, the founder and CEO of the Komen Foundation, was a political appointee of the George W. Bush Administration, in which she served as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and as Chief of Protocol. Susan G. Komen was Brinker's sister.
Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, was clearly disappointed with the foundation's decision.
"We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure. Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood said funding from the Komen Foundation has largely paid for breast exams at local centers. In the last five years, grants from the group have directly supported 170,000 screenings, comprising about 4% of the total exams performed at Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide, according to the group.
The family planning organization announced a recent "emergency fund" from a different group, the Amy and Lee Fikes' Foundation, that will go towards making up for lost funds from Komen. The gift totaled $250,000.
Planned Parenthood said Komen began notifying local affiliates recently that their breast cancer initiatives would not be eligible for new grants. In a statement, the group said the foundation's leadership did not respond to requests to meet with Planned Parenthood officials about the decision.
In September, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce began an investigation of Planned Parenthood over the organization's "compliance with federal restrictions on funding abortions."
In a letter sent to Planed Parenthood, the committee asked the group to provide information on how it segregates family planning from abortion services, as well as its policies on reporting cases of sexual abuse, rape and sex trafficking.
The committee, chaired by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, also asked for all internal audit reports from 1998 to 2010.
Funding for Planned Parenthood came under the spotlight in April, when a GOP push to strip $317 million in federal funding for the group failed in an eleventh hour budget deal to avoid a government shutdown.
Reacting to the news Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington pointed to the House investigation as the cause behind Komen's decision, saying in a statement she was "extremely disappointed that politics is once again coming between women and their health care needs."
Democratic Rep. Mike Honda of California also sharply criticized the moved and called on the Komen foundation to reconsider its decision.
"This is just the latest casualty in a misguided and harmful campaign started by House Republicans to demonize the life-saving health services delivered by Planned Parenthood health centers," Honda said in a statement.
But the decision was applauded by some in the anti-abortion community, which has long called for the dismantling of Planned Parenthood.
Tony Perkins, a major social conservative leader who heads the Family Research Council, quickly praised the Komen Foundation's decision Tuesday as “good news” for women seeking help with breast cancer, as well as for the “lives of many unborn babies.”
"Susan G. Komen can chose to stop subsidizing the abortion giant, surely Congress can redirect its resources to those helping women, not making a profit off the lives of unborn children," Perkins said in a statement.
- CNN’s Sara Pratley, Ashley Killough and Dan Merica contributed to this report.