The Susan G. Komen Foundation has been embroiled in a major public relations fiasco ever since it decided to pull its funding for mammograms from Planned Parenthood after pressure from anti-choice groups. As of now, not only has Komen backpedaled on it’s decision, but the foundation’s vice president for public policy, Karen Handel, has also resigned.
Handel became a figurehead for this incident due to the anti-gay and anti-choice views that she expressed in the past, and for last week retweeting and then deleting the message “Just like pro-abortion group to turn cancer orgs decision into a political bomb to throw. Cry me a freaking river.” In the midst of the public pulling support from Komen and shifting donations directly to Planned Parenthood, many people questioned why no one — especially Handel — had yet to resign.
What’s worse is that Handel’s resignation letter is super-defensive and shifts the blame for the organization’s problems on her predecessors, higher-ups, and the general public. She also paints herself as a martyr, stating that “the fight against breast cancer has always been foremost in every aspect of [her] work,” and that she will “respectfully decline” any offers of severance. An excerpt:
I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology.
Handel goes on to shift blame to the very higher-ups the resignation letter is addressed to, but all of this seems misplaced considering she is one of said higher ups. No organization of Komen’s size makes decisions in a vacuum and we all know that, but an entire letter distancing herself from it … methinks the lady doth protest too much. While it makes good career sense to leave an organization with your legacy intact, those days are over for her. She was the head of public policy for a group that made one of the most egregious public policy decisions ever, and her itchy Twitter trigger finger will likely always be more memorable than her insistence that none of this was political.