A senior vice president for the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation has resigned one week after the organization started receiving massive amounts of criticism over its decision to cease funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings.
Karen Handel has issued a letter of resignation as a Komen official to the group’s founder and CEO, Nancy Brinker, stating its in the organization’s “best interests.”
Handel was appointed senior vice president of public policy at Komen in April of last year, after an unsuccessful gubernatorial run in Georgia. Her joining the women’s health organization raised eyebrows because of Handel’s statements during the campaign that she would be a “pro-life governor who will work tirelessly to promote a culture of life in Georgia.”
Komen recently announced that it would stop providing approximately $600,000 in grant money to Planned Parenthood, under the guise of a new rule that disallowed funds being given to any organization under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) had launched an investigation last fall into whether Planned Parenthood had used federal money to provide abortions, a violation of federal law.
According to the Associated Press, an inside source at Komen said that Handel was a big part of revising the grant criteria, which had the “deliberate intention of targeting Planned Parenthood.” The organization was the only one out of approximately 2,000 that receive grant money from Komen that were affected by the new rules.
In the letter, Handel said that speculative motivations about Komen’s decision are “gross mischaracterizations” and that the decision to change the criteria that stopped Planned Parenthood funding had been made before she had joined Komen. She also stated that the changes were “fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization” and that no objections to the new rules were made at a board meeting in November discussing the changes.
She also denied that the criteria changes were not “based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology” but were a part of “Komen’s mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy.”
Handel implied that she had spoken with Brinker about her resignation prior to issuing the formal letter, saying that Brinker had raised “a possible severance package,” which Handel declined.
“It is my most sincere hope that Komen is allowed to now refocus its attention and energies on its mission,” Handel concluded.
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