Karen Handel, vice president for public affairs at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, announced her resignation from the breast cancer organization Tuesday in a letter to CEO and founder Nancy Brinker. Some blamed Handel for the since-reversed decision by Komen to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood, a move that drew Komen a storm of controversy. In the letter, Handel said, "I openly acknowledge my role in the matter" but that she is "deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in" the decision.
Handel became a target in the controversy with many critics, including U.S. News contributor Laura Chapin, accusing her of being behind a political anti-abortion push to cut Komen's ties to the health clinic, especially as she had once run for governor on the platform of defunding Planned Parenthood. Komen initially explained the decision as part of grant policy change that barred funding to organizations under investigation—Rep. Cliff Stearns recently launched a congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood over the use of federal monies for abortion. After much criticism, Komen announced that it would change the policy to target investigations "criminal and conclusive in nature," thus allowing funding to Planned Parenthood to continue.
Handel stood by the initial Komen decision however, saying that neither it "nor the changes themselves were based on anyone's political beliefs or ideology." Not backing down from the scandal she stated, "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."
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