Susan G. Komen pro-life VP resigns after Planned Parenthood flap

posted at 12:45 pm on February 7, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Karen Handel, the pro-life vice president of the Susan G. Komen foundation who was rumored to have heavily influenced the organization’s original decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, resigned today, shortly after Komen essentially reversed its decision and resumed its partnership with PP. The Washington Times reports:

Karen Handel, the charity’s vice president for public policy, told Komen officials that she supported the move to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. She said the discussion started before she arrived at the organization and was approved at the highest levels of the charity.

“I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it,” Handel said in her letter. “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.”

Handel had supported a decision that Komen announced last week to exclude Planned Parenthood, which provides a range of women’s health care services including abortions, from future grants for breast-cancer screenings because it was under government investigation. The charity cited a probe launched by a Florida congressman at the urging of anti-abortion groups.

The breast cancer charity reversed course after its decision created a three-day firestorm of criticism. Members of Congress and Komen affiliates accused the group’s national leadership of bending to pressure from anti-abortion activists. Komen’s founder and CEO, Nancy Brinker, denied the decision was driven by pressure from anti-abortion groups.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards lapped up praise from MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell for her “diplomatic” handling of Komen’s original announcement. O’Donnell:

Cecile Richards, you now have my nomination for America’s ambassador to the United Nations. Your artful diplomacy and how you have handled yourself in this relationship with your former partner who is now again your partner, the Komen foundation, has been something to behold. Thank you very much for joining me tonight.

O’Donnell also related predictions from various sources that Komen will not be able to survive as a foundation now because too many donors were outraged that Komen would even think of abandoning Planned Parenthood.

He might be right: Donations to Komen were up 100 percent after the news broke that the organization was defunding Planned Parenthood, but the window of opportunity for pro-life donors to show their support was very short-lived. Conscientious objectors to Komen’s grants to Planned Parenthood won’t donate now — and it seems supporters of Planned Parenthood aren’t above holding a grudge for Komen’s momentary consideration of their abandonment. In the end, then, Planned Parenthood might still kill off Komen as a source of funding … by killing off Komen. PP officials should be so proud. Severely wounding a major women’s health organization like Komen certainly demonstrates concern for women’s health.

How sad. After Komen announced its original decision, I wrote that the decoupling of Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood proved that “women’s health” and “abortion rights” are not synonymous. The two aren’t the same, but, apparently, Planned Parenthood has so great a grip on the media that, in media presentations to the public, “women’s health” and “abortion rights” will remain interchangeable.

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