Denver, Colo., Sep 12, 2012 / 03:09 am
In her new book, Karen Handel relays the story behind the "aggressive" and "partisan" attacks from Planned Parenthood following the breast cancer charity's announcement to cut grant funding.
Handel told CNA that when Komen for the Cure announced Feb. 1 that it had decided to restructure funds to Planned Parenthood, the charity "was trying to make a common sense business decision."
However, what followed was what Komen's former Vice President of Public Policy called "a massive premeditated attack on a breast cancer organization" by Planned Parenthood.
In a Sept. 7 interview, Handel outlined her new book "Planned Bullyhood: The Truth about the Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure," which was released Sept. 11 from Howard Books.
When the announcement was made earlier this year, Planned Parenthood had received funds from the organization for breast-cancer education and screening, but not actual mammograms.
Komen decided that they needed to move away from "pass-through grants" or grants that would be used by one organization to pass along to another, such as was the case with Planned Parenthood in its outsourcing for mammograms. The charity also wanted to pull funding from any organization undergoing investigation, which included Planned Parenthood.
But on Feb. 3, founder and CEO of Komen for the Cure, Nancy Brinker, apologized to "the American public" for the original decision and said she did not want her charity "marred or affected by politics."
Handel said that at the time, Planned Parenthood and its president Cecile Richards "tried to portray themselves as victims when, in reality, they were the big bullies in all of this."
The outcry following the announcement to cut funding, which was $680 thousand last year and $580 thousand the year before, "was not about money" for Planned Parenthood, but about "making a point."
"Making a point that organizations were going to do what (Planned Parenthood) said or they would pay," Handel said. "And they exacted a high price from Komen."
"What I find so despicable about it is that, while Planned Parenthood is trying to claim that they are all about women, they had no qualms about trying to destroy an organization that is truly about saving women," Handel said.
Handel believes Komen should have "stayed the course" in their decision, which was "never about anything but the best interests of women."
"In capitulating to the political outcry," of Planned Parenthood, however, she said the decision "became about politics."
Handel decided to step down from her position at Komen "out of fairness to the organization" when she realized that Planned Parenthood would "not rest until I wasn't there."
"I knew that I had to leave," she said. "And that decision was made the moment Komen capitulated."
Although many media sources reported on the surge in donations to Planned Parenthood following Komen's announcement, most failed to mention the significant increase to the breast cancer charity in wake of their grant restructuring announcement.
"I can't really talk about the number because, as a (former) member of senior management, that is something I would consider proprietary to Komen," Handel said, "but I can tell you their contributions did go up dramatically in those three days."
Handel said she hopes her book will highlight the amount of tax dollars that fund the nation's largest abortion provider, as well as the organization's political dealings.
"The average person," Handel said, "does not know that it is nearly $1.5 million a day," that goes to Planned Parenthood from "our tax dollars".
Similarly, Handel said prior to her involvement with Komen, she "had absolutely no idea" how much time and money Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has spent in "the political arena."
Richards has been an avid supporter of President Obama and his Affordable Care Act which would require employers to purchase insurance that covers abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and birth control even if doing so violates their consciences.
In a Sept. 5 blog entry for The Huffington Post, Richards championed the president as having "done more to advance women's health than any president in history," which is "why we're fighting for him in this election."
Handel said such a strong presence in politics is inappropriate for an organization that receives approximately $500 million a year in federal funding.
"I would submit that for an organization that is using government funding," Handel said, "to be so blatantly involved in politics is something that we should all have real concerns about."
Planned Parenthood has been the subject of a federal investigation headed by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) since last year. The investigation was launched after the pro-life group Americans United for Life issued a report indicating financial irregularities and involvement in assisting those involved in sex-trafficking and prostitution.
"Ultimately," Handel said, "I hope (Komen) can come out of this stronger."
Correction: Sept. 12, 2012, 11:33 MST, Article incorrectly listed annual amount of federal funding to Planned Parentood as $500 billion. The correct number is approximately $500 million.