In a new interview, ousted Susan G. Komen VP Karen Handel claims the defunding of Planned Parenthood was all supposed to be a big secret — and Planned Parenthood acted like a "bully" by going public. Why do we not buy this?
Handel told the Daily Beast's Abigail Pesta that the defunding decision wasn't political (we've heard that before) but just a way of keeping donors happy:
Two dozen Catholic bishops were saying not to support Komen. We needed to find some options for moving to neutral ground. I was tasked with doing that. An inordinate amount of staff time was spent trying to manage the controversy. We should be able to focus on our own mission and not be distracted by the controversy of another organization.
So Handel approached Planned Parenthood with the news that they couldn't support them anymore, because one organization that aims to keep women healthy shouldn't be tainted by another that ... keeps women healthy. Of course, Planned Parenthood totally understood:
There was an open and candid conversation about the controversy and the effect on Komen. There was a gentle ladies' agreement, if you will, that no one was going to go to the press about this.
It's unclear why PP would shake on this particular "gentle ladies' agreement," given that there's little in it for them — Komen had apparently agreed to continue funding existing grants, but that doesn't seem like enough to keep everybody mum about such a major breach. According to Handel, though, Komen was expecting to cover its ass and expecting PP to help. When they didn't, she was apparently outraged:
What happened is nothing short of a disgrace. Cecile Richards put this issue in the press. There was a coordinated effort to get sites like moveon.org and change.org involved. There was an orchestrated, premeditated attempt to put this issue in the press. Talk about betrayal by Planned Parenthood-against an organization that took up for it for years.
She adds, "Planned Parenthood is a gigantic bully, using Komen as its own personal punching bag." Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, says they never launched a social media campaign to embarrass Komen, and that in fact "anti-choice outlets" were the first to report the defunding. They don't appear to have explained whether a "gentle ladies' agreement" really took place — we've contacted them, and will let you know when they respond.
Update: A Planned Parenthood spokesperson says, "Regarding the Handel interview, there was no such agreement."