Ohio Bishops Steer Parishes Away From Komen Over Abortion, Stem Cell Concerns

Ohio's Catholic bishops are steering local parishes and schools away from one of the nation's leading breast cancer research groups, warning members that fundraising for the organization could indirectly support abortion and human embryonic stem cell research.

The Catholic Conference of Ohio last week posted a statement online outlining its concerns with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, particularly regarding ties to Planned Parenthood. The move followed a Toledo bishop's decision to suspend donations to the group.

The conference made clear that "individual Catholics" can continue to contribute to Komen affiliates but said local Catholic institutions should steer clear.

"The Ohio bishops agreed to direct Catholic parishes and schools away from fundraising for Komen for the Cure and toward activities and organizations that are fully consistent with Catholic moral teaching," the conference stated.

The decision stemmed in part from concerns about donations to Planned Parenthood. While the bishops were assured Komen in Ohio does not provide funding to Planned Parenthood now, conference Director Carolyn Jurkowitz said Komen affiliates have made contributions in the past.

In addition, she said, local funds could make their way to Planned Parenthood through the national office.

The conference also cited a concern that, while Komen says it does not fund embryonic stem cell research, the organization "would not rule out" supporting it in the future.

Jurkowitz, describing the latest statement as a "clarification," said bishops will now steer parishes and schools to organizations that don't have ties to groups "whose practices would be contrary to church teaching."

But Komen downplayed those ties.

Funding for embryonic stem cell research is "not in our game plan at all," spokeswoman Leslie Aun told FoxNews.com. "We do not, have not and have no plans to fund embryonic stem cell research."

As for Planned Parenthood, Aun acknowledged that Komen has 19 grants approved for Planned Parenthood -- of the 2,000 grants it approves annually for various groups across the country. But she said that money is limited to "breast health, nothing else." And she said none of those 19 affiliates is in Ohio.

Though the Ohio bishops expressed concern about past contributions to Planned Parenthood, Aun said there haven't been any "in recent history."

Still, Aun said her group was thankful the Ohio conference will continue to allow individual donations to Komen.

"We can't do this by ourselves," Aun said.