The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation may have reversed course Friday on its decision to pull funding for cancer screening from Planned Parenthood, but the full effects of its original decision may be difficult to undo.
“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives,” Komen foundation CEO Nancy Brinker said in a statement released Friday morning. “We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics.”
PHOTO GALLERY: 11 Suprising Komen Branded Products
The backlash sparked by the initial move brought more than just questions about the foundation’s funding decision and political motivations, though. It also drew a renewed focus on what The New York Times last fall called “the Pinking of America.” Over its 30-year-history, the Komen Foundation has successfully made pink the symbolic color of breast cancer awareness, and pink ribbons the symbol of support for those stricken by the disease. The pink ribbon itself followed the familiar yellow ribbons tied around trees by families waiting for loved ones to come home, and it came after the red AIDS ribbon garnered attention at the 1991 Tony Awards. That same year, the Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants at its New York City "Race for the Cure." In the years since, a rainbow of emulators have looked to tie awareness of their cause to a specific color (including red for heart disease too, purple for Alzheimer’s or Crohn’s diseases, orange for multiple sclerosis, among many others).
But no charitable group has been as successful in marketing its cause as the Komen Foundation, which has formed pink partnerships with a wide range of groups, from major sports leagues to fast-food companies to — really — a gunmaker, to promote breast cancer awareness. Click through the photo gallery for 11 pink Komen-branded products meant to raise funds and increase breast cancer awareness.
This story was updated on February 8 to clarify the history of the pink ribbon.