Karen Handel, vice president of public policy for Susan G. Komen, has quit following last week's controversy involving Planned Parenthood. This news isn't surprising given the public firestorm surrounding Komen's decision (and subsequent reversal) to exclude PP from future grants for breast-cancer screenings because it was under government investigation. Still, it's no less elating, especially to women's health supporters who have suspected that Handel was behind the whole thing from the beginning.
In her resignation letter, the high-ranking Komen official maintains that she played a minimal role in the decision and only supported it because it was the "best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve." The only problem? We're not believing her for one second.
The primary purpose of Handel's letter seems to be to minimize her role in Komen's decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood: "I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it." But sources from inside the organization say she actually was a major player in the decision, and Jezebel even reported that Handel "drafted the proposed rule change and presented it to the board." I'd say that sounds pretty significant, don't you?
What's even more outrageous is that Handel tries to convince us that the decision had nothing to do with politics:
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.
But Handel herself has a long history of being political, especially when it comes to women's health. While running as the anti-abortion, GOP candidate for governor of Georgia, she would often emphasize her anti-abortion views and denounce Planned Parenthood. Moreover, many of her tweets are political, some even anti-abortion. To insinuate that abortion rights groups have commandeered such an innocent decision as the Planned Parenthood one and used it for their own agenda is to ignore the role she herself has played in politicizing these issues.
The evidence is already stacked against her as credible, but it's actually Handel's decision to turn and run that makes her the most unbelievable: Because if Komen reversed the decision, then we can assume that's because it's what's best for women and their fight against breast cancer. And isn't that what Handel claims is her "first priority" in the first place?
Are you glad or upset that Handel has quit Komen?
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