Ex-Komen VP Karen Handel Slams Planned Parenthood, It Fires Back

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 8, 2012   |   11:30AM   |   Washington, DC

Following her departure from the Komen for the Cure breast cancer charity in the wake of the massive attacks waged on it by Planned Parenthood following news that it would cut its funding, Karen Handel slammed the abortion business.

As LifeNews reported Tuesday, Handel, a top Komen official who was said to be instrumental in putting in place the changes in Komen policy that essentially resulted in cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, resigned her position.

Komen initially decided in December to revise its grant-making process to funds grants to agencies that provide direct health services for women — which would eliminate Planned Parenthood since it does not do mammograms. After Planned Parenthood, Democratic members of Congress and the media pounced on Komen for its decision, Komen clarified that Planned Parenthood would still be allowed to submit grant requests but they may or may not be funded.

“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 followed up that letter with various interviews, including an appearance on Fox News, where she told the news station that Planned Parenthood viciously attacked the breast cancer group.

“What was unleashed over this past week was a vicious attack against a great organization,” Handel said, noting that Komen founder Susan Brinker came under personal attacks as well. “I would think all of us should be saddened that an outside organization should put this kind of pressure on another organization.”

“The last time I checked, private non-profit organizations have a right and a responsibility to be able to set the highest standards and criteria on their own without interference, let alone the level of vicious attacks and coercion that has occurred by Planned Parenthood. It’s simply outrageous,” Handel added.

She told Fox News that political pressure from her as a former Georgia Secretary of State and Senate candidate had “absolutely” nothing to do with Komen’s decision, saying, “For Komen, for myself the mission was always foremost on our mind.”

“The only group here that has made this issue political has been Planned Parenthood,” she explained. “I clearly acknowledge that I was involved in the process, but to say I had the sole authority is simply absurd.”

Handel also said the impending Congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood for fraud, misuse of taxpayer dollars and breaking abortion laws was part of the reason for Komen’s decision along with the desire to end pass-thru grants and provide direct grants to organizations that, unlike Planned Parenthood, provide women mammograms.

“I think the Congressional investigation, along with the various state investigations, were a factor in the decision,” she said. “But make no mistake about it, it was a bigger picture than that. There was the granting criteria, as well as the controversies that were surrounding Planned Parenthood.”

Some observers say the December Komen decision came about in part because Komen hired pro-life former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel as its new Vice-President for Policy. While media reports have differed about the level of influence she had on the Komen decision to change its grant policies, the liberal Huffington Post alleges in a weekend story that that was the case:

Handel told Fox News the focus on her made it so she should resign.

“I was too much of a focal point,” she said. “I really felt I had a responsibility to just step aside so they could refocus on their mission. I wanted to do the right thing on my own terms, and that’s what I tried to do.”

Later on Tuesday, Planned Parenthood vice president told pro-abortion activists at a fundraiser that the debate was good for the abortion business as it built up its grassroots support.

“We heard from tens of thousands of people,” Cecile Richards said. “It was a fabulous opportunity to frankly educate a lot of people in America about the preventive care we do.”

“What we saw last week,” Richards said, “was Americans are just tired of people playing politics with women’s health care. … By reversing this decision, I think (Komen) has gone a long way to reassuring folks that they don’t want to get between women and their health care.”

“The good news is it means we’ll be able to provide a lot more health care to women,” she said, saying Planned Parenthood raised about $3 million off of the public battle.