Karen Handel, the anti-choice Georgia conservative behind Susan G. Komen's defunding of Planned Parenthood, has resigned from her post as the charity's Senior Vice President of Public Policy. The resignation comes in the wake of growing criticism of the charity's evident political agenda, and Handel's apparent inability to depoliticize the bodies of the women whose health she was supposed to be promoting.
According to her predictably defensive letter, obtained by the Associated Press, Handel admitted to supporting the Planned Parenthood debacle that led to public outcry, but doesn't admit that she had anything to do with this "granting model change." Here's the letter, in full,
Dear Ambassador Brinker:
Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been the recognized leader for more 30 years in the fight against breast cancer here in the US – and increasingly around the world.
As you know, I have always kept Komen's mission and the women we serve as my highest priority – as they have been for the entire organization, the Komen Affiliates, our many supporters and donors, and the entire community of breast cancer survivors. I have carried out my responsibilities faithfully and in line with the Board's objectives and the direction provided by you and Liz.
We can all agree that this is a challenging and deeply unsettling situation for all involved in the fight against breast cancer. However, Komen's decision to change its granting strategy and exit the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its grants was fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization. At the November Board meeting, the Board received a detailed review of the new model and related criteria. As you will recall, the Board specifically discussed various issues, including the need to protect our mission by ensuring we were not distracted or negatively affected by any other organization's real or perceived challenges. No objections were made to moving forward.
I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. 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. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone's political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen's mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy. I believe that Komen, like any other nonprofit organization, has the right and the responsibility to set criteria and highest standards for how and to whom it grants.
What was a thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision – one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact – has unfortunately been turned into something about politics. This is entirely untrue. This development should sadden us all greatly.
Just as Komen's best interests and the fight against breast cancer have always been foremost in every aspect of my work, so too are these my priorities in coming to the decision to resign effective immediately. While I appreciate your raising a possible severance package, I respectfully decline. It is my most sincere hope that Komen is allowed to now refocus its attention and energies on its mission.
That Karen Handel is a lying liar of the highest order, spewing exactly the sort of bullshit we've come to expect from Komen in the last week. A famously, rabidly anti-choice politician enters an organization and spearheads a push to defund a pro-choice organization? How is that a mischaracterization? Again, Karen Handel thinks we are all dumb.
Further, if Komen thinks that Handel's resignation is an "exit strategy" to the controversy they've drummed up in the last week, they're even more out of touch than they appeared when Nancy Brinker lied to Andrea Mitchell on the air during her Damage Control Tour 2012. Critical eyes are turned to Komen, and there's a lot more to this story yet to unfold.
But in the meantime, good riddance to a person who is surely destined to become an anti-abortion rights folk hero for her irresponsible, dishonest policking and famously valuing proto-life over living, breathing women.
Komen official resigns [ABC]