The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation’s senior vice president for public policy, Karen Handel, resigned from her post Tuesday morning following the breast cancer group’s decision to de-fund, then re-fund, Planned Parenthood.
Due to her outspoken pro-life views when she ran for Georgia governor in 2010, in the days and week following the decision to revoke funding from the abortion provider and the subsequent reversal of that decision, Handel became the name most closely associated with the policy changes that lead to Komen’s decision to pull funding.
Noting the important role the breast cancer organization has been playing for more than 30 years, Handel explained in her resignation letter to Komen’s founder and chief executive that she “carried out [her] responsibilities faithfully and in line with the board’s objectives,” and that the decision to pull Planned Parenthood funding was fully vetted by every appropriate level of the organization.
“I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. 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,” she wrote in her letter explaining that the decision to defund was not based on ideology or politics, but on the mission to better serve women.
According to Handel, the decision to “update [their] granting model” was made prior to her joining Komen.
“I believe that Komen, like any other nonprofit organization, has the right and the responsibility to set criteria and highest standards for how and to whom it grants,” she added. “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.”
Handel concluded by refusing a possible severance package and offering hope that Komen will refocus on its ultimate mission.
While Handel was pinpointed as the one who pushed the decision to defund, Brinker said that the she was not the driving force behind the change.
On social media and in the press, Komen was hounded this week and last by the pro-choice community as they called for Handel’s resignation.