ATLANTA, GA, February 7, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – After a week of bruising rhetoric and intense pressure from Planned Parenthood, Karen Handel resigned from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation this morning.
Pro-abortion organizations pressured the private charity to fire Handel as vice president for public policy and publicly said she instigated the decision to defund the abortion provider.
This afternoon, she broke her silence.
Speaking to Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly, Handel said the Komen foundation was subjected to an unprecedented attack by the nation’s leading provider of abortion. “What was unleashed over this past week was a vicious attack against a great organization and…individual attacks against [Komen founder] Nancy Brinker, an individual whom I admire greatly – and I would think all of us should be saddened that an outside org should put this kind of pressure on another organization.”
“The last time I checked, private non-profit organizations have a right and a responsibility to be able to set the highest standards and criteria on their own without interference, let alone the level of vicious attacks and coercion that has occurred by Planned Parenthood. It’s simply outrageous,” she said.
The intimidation campaign led Handel to resign from the foundation and decline a severance package. “I was too much of a focal point,” she said. “I really felt I had a responsibility to just step aside so they could refocus on their mission.”
Handel ran for governor of Georgia in 2010 on a pro-life platform and publicly described herself as a Christian. Pro-abortion forces highlighted her candidacy, claiming Komen was bowing to political pressure – an allegation Handel strongly rejected. “Absolutely not,” she said. “For Komen, for myself the mission was always foremost on our mind.”
“The only group here that has made this issue political has been Planned Parenthood,” she said.
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Some are finding discrepancies between her interview and statements made last week by Nancy Brinker.
“I clearly acknowledge that I was involved in the process, but to say I had the sole authority is simply absurd,” Handel told Fox News.
But Laura Bassett of The Huffington Post wrote, “Handel’s statement directly contradicts what Komen executives have been telling the public since the decision was announced last week.”
Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker had told MSNBC’s Andrea Mtichell on Thursday that “Karen did not have anything to do with this decision.”
““This was decided at the board level and also by our mission.”
In her resignation letter Handel wrote “the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen.” She told Megyn Kelly she “was asked to look at options” to distance Komen from an organization that was mired in controversy “long before my time” and had since come under Congressional investigation.
Clarifying the explanations Komen gave last week, Handel said the investigation was not the only reason Komen had reduced its grants to the abortion provider. “I think the Congressional investigation, along with the various state investigations, were a factor in the decision,” she said. “But make no mistake about it, it was a bigger picture than that. There was the granting criteria, as well as the controversies that were surrounding Planned Parenthood.”
Despite her resignation, Handel had only positive words for the Komen foundation, its mission, and its personnel. She repeatedly declined to provide internal details about how the Planned Parenthood decision had been made, saying she hopes her decision to step down will aid the foundation’s efforts to combat breast cancer.
“I wanted to do the right thing on my own terms, and that’s what I tried to do.”