Good news from the Susan G. Komen Foundation!

Karen Handel, the conservative anti-choice executive who led the foundation into an embarrassing public relations debacle, has announced that she is resigning her position. This exit is most excellent news on a couple of levels. It means one bad apple has been shooed out of an influential position. It means that the Susan G. Komen Foundation recognizes the importance of the whole of women’s health issues (we hope!), and could signify a smarter, better direction for the organization and make it a palatable option in the future. And what’s really cool about this whole noisy process is that the pro-choice movement flexed its muscles and won.

Rise up! We are strong!


  1. says

    This excerpt from the article is interesting:

    …Laura Bassett reported that a Komen insider told her “Karen Handel was the prime instigator of this effort, and she herself personally came up with investigation criteria. She said, ‘If we just say it’s about investigations, we can defund Planned Parenthood and no one can blame us for being political.’”

    Handel is whining and whinging about how her efforts have been mischaracterized and misinterpreted, etc. etc. However, it looks to me like she has only one real complaint to make. She was caught.

  2. brazenlucidity says

    Now, when will the Komen Foundation use some of their money to promote research into stem cells? They never have. It seems to me it would be a natural thing to fund considering their mission.

  3. says

    Handel is well-documented as a leader in pushing for Komen defunding of Planned Parenthood. According to internal e-mails obtained by the Huffington Post, Handel was constantly hyping the threat of a right-wing backlash against the breast cancer foundation for their grant to Planned Parenthood, even though—at best—those threats were sporadic and low level. The Komen funding to Planned Parenthood was restricted and could be used only for breast cancer screening in the clinics. Since most women who can afford to do that screening at their private doctor’s office do, this policy by definition disproportionately affects low-income and young women.

  4. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    From the Nation article crowepps linked to in #1:

    Make no mistake: we’ve not heard the last of Karen Handel. And when she surfaces to tell her story, people should remember: she’s not the victim, she’s a sophisticated political operator who may have gotten exactly what she wants.

  5. raven says

    I’m really not buying their story.

    No doubt Handel is a christofascist death cultist.

    But she isn’t the only one running SG Komen. The other VP’s and corporate officials had to have signed off on it. This is really just a pack of rats tossing a big rat off the ship and hoping no one else notices the problem.

    I no longer care about or for SG Komen.

    Like any enraged tree worshipping Pagan, I called up the Planned Parenthood website and sent them some money.

  6. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Yep, it’s good she’s gone but I still don’t trust the culture that has been created at Komen.

    It’s brand loyalty first, money raising second, charity third.

  7. janine says

    Too little, too late. So what that Karen Handel came up with the idea to not fund an organization that was under congressional investigation. The people who ran SKG know where Karen Holder stood when it came to abortions when they hired here. They allowed her to do this and tried to deny the connections when it was pointed out.

    The leadership of SGK wanted this to happen. It is time for SGK to go down like a lead zeppelin.

  8. says

    SGK was stupid enough to hire Handel, and not smart enough to fire her bitch ass when this blew up. Any organization that badly managed is not worth supporting, and I sincerely hope ut goes down in flames fast. My donations are now going directly to PP, and to the BCRF.

  9. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    SGK was stupid enough to hire Handel, and not smart enough to fire her bitch ass when this blew up.


  10. robro says

    I’m reminded of this from Roger Rosenblatt’s book Rules for Aging (2000):

    Let bad enough alone — This rule requires some amplification because it invokes one of the more complicated, charming, and lethal human faculties—optimism—specifically the optimism that embraces the belief that persistent clarification after one has committed a social blunder will make everything all right.

    The rest is a sadly predictable story arc: screw up, explain, then blame with lots of collateral damage. They would do better to admit the screw up, but the chances of that seem nil.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    Note that the top brass at Komen have been relying on former Bushevik flack Ari Fleischer for political guidance.

    And that Handel bugged out in a way that leaves her positioned to blab and/or sue regarding her relationship with Komen.

    Not to mention that, apparently, anti-choice/contraception fanatic Jane Abraham remains on the Komen board.

    Ejecting one bad apple does not cleanse the barrel.

  12. allencdexter says

    Those big donations, as well as the small ones, are the icing on the cake. SGK lost all possible support from us. We would support PP any way we can. I predict PP is going to surge ahead and SGK is going to have to retrench. Their income is going down!

  13. DLC says

    whoah. Edit time… wish this had that capability.
    my 20 should have said “At least PP got some extra donations out of the deal. “

  14. says

    #17 – I was out of order, but just lost it after reading about the BS way she gets to weasel her way out from under the mess she intentionally created. No excuse for my crude and offensive comment.

  15. bigduck says

    Handel demonstrated 2 things:

    1. Political/religious extremists are toxic poison for a supposedly non-partisan organization that depends on public contributions.

    2. SGK was not and is still not a non-partisan organization.

  16. says

    If only our elected officials would notice that the country is in favor of promoting women’s health. Oh wait, our capitulator-in-chief is ready to cave on free birth control. Guess not.

  17. bpcross says

    Not really news; she be replaced by more of the same with not quite the obvious profile and, she already has a job with Fox I believe.

  18. ryan says

    It’s unfortunate that she’s got a job at Fox already, but sadly not surprising. It would have been nice if she had ended up unemployable however unlikely that dream was. Still, it is positive news, it might even show the right wing-nuts that they can’t have it all their own way, that there are consequences to their actions.

  19. nemothederv says

    I’m glad she’s at Fox.
    She won’t be able to “rebrand” and disguise what she is.

  20. Therrin says

    it might even show the right wing-nuts that they can’t have it all their own way, that there are consequences to their actions.

    Being an ass gets you a lucrative contract? Some consequence.

  21. NuMad says

    From the letter, cited in the article linked above:

    —one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact—

    That, at least, is accurate, but only because she doesn’t specify if the impact she refers to would have been positive or negative.

  22. fifilamour says

    Ah, politics and breast cancer….these kinds of foundations have a myriad of issues, the biggest one being that in many of them more of the money collected goes to big salaries for the top people and operations than to non-profit centres or organizations that actually do things (whether it’s research or patient care). We’re all better off giving directly to organizations that DO things rather than these middlemen who take a huge cut of what’s donated for themselves. When compared to the salaries that people who actually work at non-profits that provide patient care or most researchers, it’s pretty outrageous.

    There’s a documentary that’s just been released about the Pink Ribbon campaign that I think raises an issue that’s becoming increasingly important regarding how corporations are using health issues (that people are often emotionally involved in due the illness of themselves or someone they love) to sell, um, products that contain potentially cancer causing substances. Not only that, it tracks the history of the “ribbon” campaign for breast cancer to show how corporations basically stole the idea from an activist!

  23. crowepps says

    Speaking as someone who has previously and now currently serves on a number of non-profit boards, it is very important for both the board members and the staff of these organizations to be alert for people who want to insert themselves into existing organizations with good reputations because doing so will allow them both access to serve their own secret purposes and cover while doing so. Certainly Big Brothers Big Sisters was very alert to that, and required that all members of the Board fill out a long application, submit to a background check, and go through an extensive interview before joining the program. Those who wanted to ‘improve’ either the program or the children themselves by adding their own personal religion weren’t accepted.

    It is a disastrous mistake to hire staff whose purpose in joining the organization is to ‘reform’ it by changing its existing policies to their own preferences, or who wish to use its popularity to insinuate their wedge politics into its mission field. Several representatives of Komen have said something along the lines of “there has been a controversy about Planned Parenthood for a long time” which to me would indicate that point should have been specifically addressed during the hiring process, because if they really truly didn’t want to get their program involved in politics, it was incredibly incompetent to hire a right wing, adamantly ProLife politician to put in charge of grant policy.

  24. says

    SG Komen isn’t clear yet. They decided not to defund grants already promised after all, but they have said nothing about supporting Planned Parenthood with future grants–only that they are free to apply. Just give the money straight to PP and write to Komen and explain why–starting with the Bush twig on board.

  25. fifilamour says

    The Daily Kos has a good post that shows that the Komen Foundation’s strangely anti-woman political manipulations have been going on for much longer….

    It seems more and more like a corporate propaganda front than any kind of real women’s non-profit that’s an advocate for women’s health. A bit like born again, anti-choice Christian “feminists” really…whose main point in existing is to try to pretend an anti-choice position as feminist (you can be against getting an abortion yourself but trying to control other women’s freedom of choice is obviously an anti-feminist position). Right now, the sneak attack on abortion in Canada is using another of these kinds of pseudo-feminist premises – under the guise of protecting unborn baby girls of non-Canadian medical tourists who come to Canada for abortions and to test the sex of their babies, Harper’s government is trying to start eroding current abortion laws. Of course, the reality is that people rich enough to travel to have the sex of their baby tested to decide whether or not to keep it are going to continue to have access to those kinds of services in North America anyway due to their wealth. Of course, there may well be an element of pressure from the Chinese government, considering how Harper is busy cementing “free trade” with the highly undemocratic regime.