Breaking: Komen VP Karen Handel resigns over Planned Parenthood debacle

From the AP:

An executive with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer charity has resigned after a dispute over funding for Planned Parenthood. The resignation came in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Karen Handel (HAN’-duhl) announced her resignation as vice president for public policy in a letter to Komen officials Tuesday.

Handel said in her letter that she had supported cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood.

This is major news, and a definite victory for the reproductive rights and justice community. As the VP of Public Policy, Handel had the ability to negatively impact women’s health in so many other ways with her anti-choice ideology.

It’s clear that Komen realizes the severity of what they’ve done, and that the response was likely way more severe than they ever imagined. Way to stick it to them folks.

What I’ve liked about this particularly example of activism is that it is predicated on the fact that abortion can’t be isolated from the whole slate of women’s health services–breast cancer screening included.

Update: You can read Handel’s resignation letter here.

Join the Conversation

  • jillian

    ” 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.”

    we needed some excuse to break ties with them. so we cherry picked a policy.

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

    I am butthurt.

    ” and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization.”

    She’s really putting her foot in her mouth and saying this is all about Planned Parenthood and not about investigated organizations (which we knew all along).

    “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.”

    Wah. I’m going to take my ball and go home. and it would look really bad if you spend anymore money on me considering what funding and credibility ive made you lose during this week-long debacle.

  • Kristen

    One disappointing trend I saw in Handel’s letter was her use of the word “controversy”. Any group that claims to be committed to a mission of preserving women’s health should understand that controversy and politics are unfortunately embedded in the issue. It seems to me that her main concern was not women’s health as much as it was the image of Komen overall. At this point, Komen’s image and its commitment to women’s health have both been tainted, and having someone so concerned with appearances, as Handel seems to be, would have likely held Komen back from rebuilding the trust between them and the women they want to help.

  • Kirsten Sherk

    I’m not sure that we did, in fact, learn that abortion can’t be isolated from broader women’s health concerns. I think we learned that, when it comes to women’s health, Planned Parenthood is a trusted provider with a strong national reputation, and a much stronger and more passionate base of support than Komen Race for the Cure. But what if Komen had just said that they were no longer supporting women’s health centers that provide abortions? Would Planned Parenthood have seized on the opportunity so readily? Would there have been such an overwhelming outcry on social media?

    (More articulate than my response is this blog by Anu Kumar here,

  • Nonsequiteuse

    I sure as hell hope so, Kirsten, but fear you & your colleague are right. This is why I’ve stopped (or am trying to stop) with the canard that I’d like abortion to be safe, legal, and rare. Even though that would be nice, even saying rare seems to yield ground to those who would treat this basic medical procedure as a morality test.

    So glad y’all are kicking a** and taking names at IPAS.

    Did Handel herself put that resignation letter out? I guess so – her way of telling people she got fired (because you don’t offer severance when someone decides to resign, you only offer it if you the employer is suggesting the employee leave) to up her martyrdom quotient and crease the sheets for the speaker circuit.

    Or, heaven forbid, the GOP VP spot. The GOP sure loves a martyr.