Jolt

Early Tuesday Jolt: Komen VP Resigns

By Josh Feit February 7, 2012

Anti-choice Komen vice president Karen Handel has resigned under massive public pressure from supporters of Planned Parenthood, after Komen announced it would no longer fund breast cancer screenings to Planned Parenthood under newly adopted rules last week.

It was one of the quickest about-faces in recent political memory.

Just one week ago, Komen announced that under a new rule excluding groups under congressional investigation from Komen funding (Florida Tea Party Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns launched an investigation of Planned Parenthood last year, accusing the group of spending federal dollars on abortions), Komen would no longer fund breast cancer screenings and mammogram referrals at Planned Parenthood's clinic.

The backlash came quickly, with Planned Parenthood supporters organizing online and donating millions of dollars to the group in just a few days. More than two dozen senators---all Democrats---signed a letter to Komen president Nancy Brinker asking her to reverse the decision, which she did the following day.

But the backlash wasn't over. Many wondered: Why haven't any heads rolled at Komen? Specifically, why hasn't the group fired Handel, whose anti-choice politics obviously influenced the group's original decision to yank Planned Parenthood's funding? (Although Komen initially insisted that politics played absolutely no role in the decision, and that it was all about "efficiency," emails from Handel came to light this week revealing that she lobbied tirelessly to ax funding for Planned Parenthood.)

Now Handel's gone. But her resignation, and Komen's swift reversal, aren't a clear-cut victory for Planned Parenthood. Although their funding is guaranteed this year, Komen could yank Planned Parenthood's grants next year. Still, the public backlash to Komen's decision represents a victory for women, even if it's ultimately a Phyrric one.
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