Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Komen VP quits after Planned Parenthood defunding fiasco

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Karen Handel (former Vice-President of Susan G. Komen for the Cure)
Karen Handel

A week after the Internet flew into uproar over the news that the venerable Susan G. Komen for the Cure had pulled its cancer-screening grants from Planned Parenthood (only to partially reverse course and apologize days later), it’s now confirmed that Komen’s Vice President Karen Handel, long-time anti-abortionist and opponent of Planned Parenthood, had a direct role in the ill-fated decision – and has officially lost her job over it:

A high-ranking official resigned Tuesday from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer charity after a dispute over whether the group should give funding to Planned Parenthood, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Karen Handel, the charity's vice president for public policy, told Komen officials she supported the move to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, though she said the discussion started before she arrived and was approved at the highest levels of the charity. A person with direct knowledge of decision-making at Komen's headquarters said Handel was a driving force behind the move to cut the funding.

"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 said in the letter the now-abandoned policy was fully vetted by the Komen organization. Its board did not raise any objections when it was presented with the proposed policy in November, Handel said.

Komen Founder and CEO Nancy G. Brinker said she accepted Handel's resignation and wished her well.

"We have made mistakes in how we have handled recent decisions and take full accountability for what has resulted, but we cannot take our eye off the ball when it comes to our mission," Brinker said in a statement. "To do this effectively, we must learn from what we've done right, what we've done wrong and achieve our goal for the millions of women who rely on us."

It’s both exasperating and amusing to see these repeated attempts at rationalizing what happened, as if the fault was in any way with all those who criticized them for their decision, rather than with them for wanting to pull nearly $700 thousand in grants for crucial breast cancer screenings that inarguably save the lives of countless women across the U.S. every year. It definitely makes one wonder just where their priorities lie … though it also speaks quite clearly about whether they care more about politics than actual women’s health.

At any rate, it’s still comforting to see just how powerful the Internet has become lately as a force for good. The more anti-choice ideologues are forced out of positions of public policy and healthcare, the better.

(via @BreakingNews)