WASHINGTON, D.C., February 7, 2012, ( – Karen Handel, the vice president for public policy at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, has resigned following the controversy surrounding that charity’s decision to restrict funding to Planned Parenthood.

Numerous media outlets had suspected the decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood originated with Handel, who describes herself as a “pro-life Christian.”

In her letter of resignation, Handel wrote, “I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it.” Although she acknowledges her “role in the matter” and says she continues to believe the decision “was the best one,” she said “the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen.”


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“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,” she said. The November board meeting that unanimously adopted the new policy featured a full briefing on its effect, “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.”

Handel insisted, “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.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, told that Handel had taken a toll from all “Planned Parenthood has done to pulverize anyone that would deign to distance themselves from [an organization under] investigation.”

“I think it’s a pretty human reaction that one would have to the sort of abuse that Planned Parenthood has heaped upon Susan Komen,” she said.

Steven Aden, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, said he would “echo that, and I will say that what Planned Parenthood did to that venerable and honorable institution is nothing short of a mafia-style shakedown.”

In her letter, Handel “respectfully” declined a severance package offered by Nancy Brinker, the founder and CEO of Komen for the Cure. Jill Stanek writes that accepting the package “might have required her to keep silent.”

Handel scheduled a press conference in Atlanta for this afternoon.

Brinker accepted Handel’s resignation, stating, “We have made mistakes in how we have handled recent decisions and take full accountability for what has resulted.” 

Several feminist and liberal organizations had called for Handel’s resignation.

You can contact the Susan G. Komen Foundation here.