KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Komen Vice President Resigns

Karen Handel says she is leaving immediately so the organization can "refocus" on its mission, after becoming a lightning rod for controversy over its decision to cut funds to Planned Parenthood.

Los Angeles Times: Komen Executive Quits As Questions Persist
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation took another step toward rehabilitating its standing in the breast cancer community with the resignation of the executive at the center of the Planned Parenthood funding controversy. In a largely conciliatory letter, Karen Handel, senior vice president for public policy, said Tuesday that she would step down immediately so the organization could "refocus its attention and energies on its mission" (Roan and Brown, 2/7).

NPR: Controversial Komen Policy Official Resigns
A high-ranking official at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation has resigned amid fallout from the charity's move, since reversed, to halt funding for breast cancer screening by Planned Parenthood. Karen Handel, a former Republican candidate for governor in Georgia, resigned her job, effective immediately, as senior vice president for public policy (Hensley, 2/7).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Handel Resigns From Komen; Cites 'Vicious Attack' From Planned Parenthood
Karen Handel accused the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Tuesday of plotting for a month before launching an orchestrated "shakedown" of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Handel, who resigned Tuesday as Komen's vice president of public policy, said Planned Parenthood was informed in December that Komen had revised its grant-making policies, making Planned Parenthood ineligible for future grants. She said Komen was "blind-sided" last week when the media suddenly got hold of the story, precipitating a public relations debacle that, she said, Komen was ill-equipped to handle…. Planned Parenthood rejected Handel's accusations (Leslie, 2/7).

Bloomberg: Komen Foundation Official Resigns After Funding Feud With Planned Parenthood
Karen Handel, a senior vice president of public policy for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, resigned after the breast-cancer group decided to overturn a decision to end grants to Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Handel, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in Georgia in 2010, today criticized Planned Parenthood for its "guerilla tactics," saying "for an outside organization to come in like they did and conduct this shakedown is outrageous." The Komen organization's decision to end about $680,000 in grants drew thousands of online protests and complaints and helped Planned Parenthood raise $3 million in reaction (Lopatto and Newkirk, 2/7).

NPR's SHOTS blog: Controversy Over Stem-Cell Research Keeps Charities On Sidelines
Despite raising millions of dollars for breast cancer research, Komen hasn't funded any [embryonic stem-cell research], prompting questions about whether that decision is rooted in politics. ... Many scientists think human embryonic stem cells could lead to cures for many ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, some forms of blindness and possibly cancer. But human embryos have been destroyed to obtain some of the cells. ... Komen isn't alone. Neither the American Cancer Society nor the American Heart Association funds research with human embryonic stem cells (Stein, 2/7). 

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood says the controversy raised awareness about the work it does. But anti-abortion groups continue to fight the group.

McClatchy / The Charlotte Observer: Planned Parenthood President Says Komen Controversy Has Had Benefits
Speaking in Charlotte on Tuesday, the national president of Planned Parenthood said last week's angry reaction to a funding cut by the Susan G. Komen foundation not only benefited Planned Parenthood financially but raised awareness of its mission. … Cecile Richards headlined a fundraiser for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund at the Levine Museum of the New South. Her appearance came on the same day that a Komen official blamed for the controversy resigned (Morrill, 2/8).


This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.