February 7, 2012; Politico | Karen Handel, who was vice president for public policy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, has resigned after reports have surfaced pointing to her involvement in the now-rescinded decision to defund Planned Parenthood cancer screenings. Handel had joined Komen after a failed run for governor in Georgia. During the campaign, she had expressed her desire to defund Planned Parenthood.
Handel’s resignation letter reportedly references the Planned Parenthood funding debacle head-on, reading, in part, “I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve … What was a thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision [to sever ties with Planned Parenthood]—one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact—has unfortunately been turned into something about politics.”
The charges of political motivations have largely been tossed in Handel’s direction, however, by those who say that the defunding attempt was little more than a thinly-veiled anti-abortion statement as opposed to a decision in the best interests of Komen or the women it serves. Meanwhile, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said, “This is just more proof that Planned Parenthood will pulverize anyone who dares to question them.”
Nancy Brinker, Komen CEO and founder, acknowledged that the organization has made “mistakes” in its handling of the situation. –Mike Keefe-Feldman