Karen Handel resigns after Planned Parenthood controversy

ATLANTA,None — The Susan G. Komen Foundation's vice president of public policy has resigned over her role in the organization's decision to defund Planned Parenthood.

Karen Handel submitted her resignation on Tuesday, to be effective immediately. She declined a severance package, Channel 2's Lori Geary reported.

Last week, the Susan G. Komen Foundation pulled its funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings. Komen cited a new policy forbidding funding to organizations under investigation. A Florida congressman had launched a probe into Planned Parenthood over its spending of federal funds.

After a widespread public backlash, Komen reversed its decision and said Planned Parenthood would continue to be eligible for grants.

In an interview with Geary Tuesday afternoon, Handel defended the decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood and said the discussion began before she joined the organization.

"I was part of decision-making process, but I was not the sole decider. I embrace the fact that I was involved in the project. I embrace the fact that I led the project," Handel said.

Handel said she is disappointed Komen reversed its course, adding that the decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood would have actually helped more women gain access to mammograms. She said she respects the final decision, but said she finds the motives of Planned Parenthood are disturbing.

"Let's all remember that Planned Parenthood, despite trying to position themselves as a breast-health organization, is not. They do not do mammograms. It is a pass-through organization, meaning, they get dollars, give someone a voucher who goes somewhere else to get the mammogram," Handel said.

Handel called Planned Parenthood a political bully with a clear agenda. She noted that the money involved in the controversy was $680,000, less than 1 percent of the $93 million Komen gives out every year.

"Planned Parenthood's revenues are $1 billion. Now, logic would tell you that in the grand scheme of making an impact, these grants were not all that important to Planned Parenthood, and what it does underscores that," Handel said. "The real motive for Planned Parenthood in what they did in viciously attacking Komen had nothing whatsoever to do with a fight against breast cancer, but it had everything to do with Planned Parenthood's fight to advance its own agenda for the sake of politics."


In her resignation letter, Handel emphasized that the decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood was not political, but made to better serve women.

"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," Handel wrote.

Handel said her resignation was her decision, as was opting out of her offered severance package. She said her resignation allows Komen to focus on its mission of fighting breast cancer.

Handel previously served as Georgia's secretary of state, but stepped down to pursue a bid for Georgia governor in 2010. Nathan Deal won the Republican nomination and went on to win the election.

Handel told Geary she is not sure what she will do next.

Click here to read Handel's  complete resignation letter.