February 7th, 2012 By Kevin Osborne | News | Posted In: News, Women's Health, Not-for-profit, Internet

Handel Resigns from Breast Cancer Charity

handelKaren Handel

The anti-abortion politician who urged Susan G. Komen for the Cure to pull its funding from Planned Parenthood has resigned from the charity.

Karen Handel, who was Komen’s vice president of public policy, submitted her resignation letter today, the Associated Press reported. Handel said she stands by her goal of ending grants to Planned Parenthood and is disappointed that Komen leaders reversed the decision after public outcry.

Handel ran unsuccessfully for the GOP's nomination to be a candidate for Georgia governor in 2010. In the campaign, she was supported by Sarah Palin, largely for her anti-abortion views.

In Handel’s letter, she wrote, "Neither the decision (to pull the grants) nor the changes themselves were based on anyone's political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen's mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy."

How did that work out for you, Karen?

** UPDATE: Here is the full text of Handel's letter.

February 7, 2012

The Honorable Nancy Brinker

CEO, Susan G.

Komen for the Cure VIA EMAIL

5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250

Dallas, Texas 75244

Dear Ambassador Brinker:

Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been the recognized leader for more 30 years in the fight against breast cancer here in the US – and increasingly around the world.

As you know, I have always kept Komen’s mission and the women we serve as my highest priority – as they have been for the entire organization, the Komen Affiliates, our many supporters and donors, and the entire community of breast cancer survivors. I have carried out my responsibilities faithfully and in line with the Board’s objectives and the direction provided by you and Liz.

We can all agree that this is a challenging and deeply unsettling situation for all involved in the fight against breast cancer. 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. At the November Board meeting, the Board received a detailed review of the new model and related criteria. As you will recall, the Board specifically discussed various issues, including the need to protect our mission by ensuring we were not distracted or negatively affected by any other organization’s real or perceived challenges. No objections were made to moving forward.

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. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen’s mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy. 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.

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.

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. It is my most sincere hope that Komen is allowed to now refocus its attention and energies on its mission.


Karen Handel


02.09.2012 at 08:47 Reply

May God bless Karen Handel, as she believes in the Sanctity of Human Life, so does the Church and we support her efforts to promote life.

......The Catholic Church has a consistency that transcends politics and every other social divide, perhaps best demonstrated by her valuation of human life. Throughout history, the Church has put herself at the service of people everywhere, regardless of their religious beliefs. She has nursed them, taught them, fed them, clothed them, protected them and championed their rights.

In large part this is due to the theological reality that each and every human being is made in the image and likeness of God, regardless of one’s personal failings. This means that there is something God-like in every human being, a kinship, if you will, with the divine. This means that we have an immortal soul. It means that we have an intellect. It even means that we’re able to laugh. And while every one of us is made equally in the image and likeness of God, we will live it out personally and uniquely.

Corresponding to this is the scientific reality: we know that from the moment of conception the human being has its own unique genetic composition. Furthermore, it can only grow to be an adult human. It’s not going to become another type of animal or even a human part, like an arm or a leg. From the moment of conception, it requires nourishment and care. The blueprint, however, is complete.

Obviously, life is not as simple as the blueprint. Situations arise in which a particular life might be an inconvenience as in the case of a crisis pregnancy or, on the other end of life, a terminally ill patient. Circumstances may be dire, but they do not change the reality that the Church perceives, namely that this particular human being is made in the image and likeness of God.

In many ways, I think the Church is challenging all of society to come up with better solutions than those which denigrate or destroy life. In cases of abortion or euthanasia, people are generally looking for a solution to a problem. But often the sign of the problem and the problem itself become confused. The majority of women seeking abortions do so because they do not believe that they have the resources to have a baby at that particular time. But the abortion is not going to change their circumstances. The circumstances will remain, whether financial, personal, relational, etc. The Church posits that as a society, we should help a woman (and a man) to meet those needs so that the child can be born. Similarly, in case of a seriously ill patient, the Church again challenges us to do everything that we can to help that person live well and die a natural death. (It doesn’t say much for our modern capabilities when we fail at basic pain management.)

While the world may not recognize the image and likeness of God in a particular human person at a given stage of development, the work of the Church is to bear witness to this truth in all circumstances. Our beliefs need to correspond to this reality by means of our personal actions, the way we vote, and the policies we support. As Catholics we are obliged to build a culture in which women and men are affirmed, a culture in which abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, the destruction of human life for research, and any violation of human dignity are soundly refuted. In other words, we are called to build what John Paul II called a culture of life: protecting human life from conception until natural death.......By Pia de Solenni