Karen Handel
Associated Press/Photo by John Bazemore
Karen Handel

Don’t cave to bullies


Before reading about Karen Handel’s book deal to write Planned Bullyhood: The Truth about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, I’d never heard of her. I hadn’t followed the Komen-cuts-off-Planned-Parenthood backlash. After reading the book, it’s obvious that Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s former senior vice president of public policy was made the scapegoat. (Read or listen to Marvin Olasky’s interview with Handel from earlier this year.)

A Roman Catholic and a Republican, Handel rose quickly in Georgia politics, handling budgets and calling for ethical and financial reforms. She attributes her loss in the governor’s race to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s endorsement of her GOP primary opponent, Nathan Deal, and the Georgia Right to Life opposing her. Handel says she’s pro-life, but makes an exception for cases of rape and incest.

After the loss, Handel regrouped and formed a consulting firm. In the wake of the “red tide” elections of 2010, Komen hired her to consult and eventually offered her a position on staff. The recession made fundraising harder and more competitive, and Komen decided to change how it awarded grants. Planned Parenthood’s grants were educational and pass-through, and Komen wanted a new “outcomes-based” granting model. Komen President Liz Thompson said Planned Parenthood had poor quality grants that delivered minimal results. Komen’s mission is fewer late-stage breast cancer diagnoses and increased survival rates. Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms. Komen also sought to keep the focus on breast cancer, not abortion.

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The abortion mill’s budget is $1 billion, and its Komen grants amounted to only $680,000. Handel emphasizes that Komen had “every contractual basis” to cut off Planned Parenthood for noncompliance, but treated it with “the softest of kid gloves” and agreed to continue funding existing grants through the contract period.

Although Komen’s leadership jointly agreed to disengage with Planned Parenthood based on the new granting model and other factors (the abortion provider’s heavy involvement in politics, fraud investigations, etc.), Planned Parenthood broke the no-press-ambush agreement and portrayed the decision as a “war on women,” led by Handel and the pro-lifers. Planned Parenthood and its allies unleashed attacks on Twitter and Facebook and through email and phone campaigns. Komen caved, and Handel resigned.

In her book, Handel goes into detail and thoroughly documents her side of the story. The conflicts of interest among Komen and Planned Parenthood consultants, employees, and the Democratic Party will make your head spin. As Handel notes, most associate Planned Parenthood with its “clinics,” but it’s now a “complex labyrinth” of lobbying groups, PACS, and tax-exempt 527s. They work to put Democrats in office. Almost half its funding comes from the government, which means conservative, pro-life taxpayers fund abortions and Planned Parenthood’s leftist political agenda. Through Obamacare, the abortion mill will seize even more tax dollars.

What can we do about it? The obvious step is to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Handel also advises groups like Komen to toughen up. Negative press and donor complaints are daunting, but she says, “The real harm comes when the good guys acquiesce to the demands of bullies.” Stand firm. According to Handel, Komen’s donations “skyrocketed” in the 72 hours it initially held its ground.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications


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