Komen executive resigns and criticizes Planned Parenthood

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Karen Handel, who was vice president of public policy for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, resigned yesterday, one week after the organization took flak for its decision not to fund Planned Parenthood. At her announcement, Handel criticized Planned Parenthood for leading an "orchestrated, clearly pre-meditated attack on Komen."

Karen Handel in 2010 while she was Secretary of State in Georgia.
Image: MMAFightFan.

The Komen Foundation is known for raising awareness of breast cancer and for its funding of breast cancer screening.

Handel was a former Republican candidate for governor in the state of Georgia where she took a pro-life stance, but she lost the primary race to current Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, who took office in 2011. Unlike others at Komen, Handel said the organization faced pressure from groups that were against abortion to do something about its funding to Planned Parenthood.

Cquote1.svg I have known Karen for many years, and we both share a common commitment to our organization’s lifelong mission, which must always remain our sole focus. Cquote2.svg

Nancy Brinker

She said Komen's process for creating a policy that allowed the foundation to decline funding for any organization that was under investigation, even if it was not a criminal investigation, was a "thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision … that has unfortunately been turned into something about politics." Handel said while the guidelines behind the split were created before she had obtained her position at Komen, she was one person in the group who decided to apply them to Planned Parenthood and halt Komen's funding.

In her statement, Handel said she was "deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it."

Handel declined a severance package from Komen.

Nancy Brinker, who is Komen’s chief executive and founder, admitted the foundation made mistakes in handling the Planned Parenthood decision last week. "I accepted the resignation of Karen Handel," Brinker said. "I have known Karen for many years, and we both share a common commitment to our organization’s lifelong mission, which must always remain our sole focus. I wish her the best in future endeavors."

While the Komen Foundation has since reinstated its funding of Planned Parenthood, several other board members have also resigned since the controversy began.


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