February 7, 2012; Source: Meltwater Press | NPQ has been keeping a close eye on the explosive controversy involving Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s now-rescinded decision to discontinue its funding to Planned Parenthood. Yesterday, Komen Vice President of Public Policy Karen Handel, who was accused of instigating the decision, announced that she will be stepping down.
On top of the viral content circulating on Handel’s anti-abortion and anti-gay views, including an interview in which Handel voices her anti-gay political stance on adoption and marriage, there were also at least two online campaigns urging Handel to resign which may have successfully contributed to the announcement.
UltraViolet, an online community of activists striving to fight sexism in the public sector, launched one of the campaigns which collected more than 37,000 signatures in less than a week, and CREDO Action, Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor, launched a very similar campaign which accumulated more than 50,000 signatures. CREDO, whose campaign included hundreds of calls to Komen’s Dallas headquarters, also pledged a $200,000 grant program to replenish the funds that had been threatened by Komen’s former decision.
UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas said, “It was clear that Karen Handel was willing to put her extremist political agenda ahead of women’s lives. That was a big problem for Komen for the Cure’s mission, so her resignation is definitely a positive sign for the organization.”
With the intense scrutiny focused on Komen since the contentious decision and subsequent reversal, it isn’t tremendously surprising that Handel resigned, but we wonder to what degree these online campaigns and any others that were in process may have impacted Komen’s choice. –Aine Creedon