The former Susan G. Komen for the Cure executive who resigned earlier this year amid the controversy over the breast cancer organization’s decision (later reversed) to pull funding from Planned Parenthood is out with a new book telling her side of what happened.
Karen Handel, former secretary of state for Georgia, a Republican, and the former senior vice president of public policy for the Komen Foundation, alleges it was Planned Parenthood, the “left,” and the “liberal media” who made the decision political, not Komen leadership.
“Komen was looking at how to deliver breast health services in the best, most effective way,” Handel said on Andrea Mitchell Reports Thursday. “Unfortunately, what transpired is you saw the left and Planned Parenthood bullied up on Komen over just $700,000. When Komen was about breast health, not about politics, Planned Parenthood made it about politics.”
Asked about the charges lobbed by Handel, Planned Parenthood provided a statement to Lean Forward by Eric Ferrero, a vice president of communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It is incredible that there are people who still want to inject politics into breast cancer detection and treatment," Ferrero countered. "Each year, Planned Parenthood health centers perform nearly 750,000 breast exams. We’re proud of our work to help detect breast cancer, and our focus is always on the patients who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for this lifesaving care."
Although Komen founder Nancy Brinker denied it, many believed Handel, who had only recently joined the organization when the controversy began, played a significant role in coordinating the decision to reallocate grant funds for breast cancer services away from Planned Parenthood.
Handel, who has been vocal about her pro-life, Christian conservative beliefs, complained she was “singled out” for scapegoating by the “liberal media,” and the “left.”
In her book “Planned Bullyhood,” a not-so-subtle play on Planned Parenthood’s name, Handel also alleges that politicians from both the right and left – Republican strategist Karl Rove and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz – pressured Brinker to resume funding to Planned Parenthood. (Spokespeople for Rove and Wasserman Schultz have denied Handel’s characterization of events.)
Handel characterized the roughly $700,000 in grants Planned Parenthood was set to lose for breast cancer screenings and other breast services as “inconsequential,” saying, “Planned Parenthood wanted the alignment with Komen because it gave them legitimacy, credibility, allowed them to wrap themselves in the pink. That’s what this was about.”
Although Komen, under pressure from some of its own members, ultimately relented in just a few days and returned funding to Planned Parenthood, Handel says she wishes they had “held the line.”
Planned Parenthood announced an expansion of its breast health program last month, which was enabled by the more than $3 million it raised in less than four days from about 77,000 individuals who offered their financial support when the initial Komen decision was made public.