Susan G. Komen for the Cure (for breast cancer) plays stooge for right-wing anti-abortion whackos, then has to eat its words / right-wing whacko-in-chief Karen Handel
Knowing absolutely nothing about women's health, I've always sent them straight to Planned Parenthood. I know they'll be treated with excellence.
Now I'm amending my advice and telling all girls and women to stay far away from Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Komen plays footsie with right-wing fundamentalist women-enslaving politicians -- and would rather push a political agenda than help women and their health issues.
The Associated Press
Friday 3 February 2012
Komen drops plans to cut
NEW YORK -- The Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer charity on Friday abandoned plans to eliminate grants to Planned Parenthood. The startling decision came after three days of virulent criticism that resounded across the Internet, jeopardizing Komen's iconic image.
"We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives," a Komen statement said.
As first reported by The Associated Press on Tuesday, Komen had adopted criteria excluding Planned Parenthood from future grants for breast-cancer screenings because it was under government investigation, citing a probe launched by a Florida congressman at the urging of anti-abortion groups.
Komen said it would change the criteria "to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political."
"We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants," the statement said.
Many of Komen's affiliates across the country had openly rebelled against the decision to cut the funding, which totaled $680,000 in 2011. One affiliate, in Aspen, Colo., had announced Thursday that it would defy the new rules and continue grants to its local Planned Parenthood partner.
In addition, Komen was inundated with negative comments via emails, on Twitter and on its Facebook page. Many of the messages conveyed a determination to halt gifts to Komen -- organizer of the popular Race for the Cure events -- because of the decision.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood was reporting an outpouring of support — donations large and small, triggered by the Komen decision, that it said surpassed $3,000,000 since the story broke. It has pledged to use the funds to maintain and expand its breast health services.
Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, thanked those donors Friday and welcomed Komen's change of heart.
"We are enormously grateful that the Komen Foundation has clarified its grantmaking criteria," Richards said. "What these past few days have demonstrated is the deep resolve all Americans share in the fight against cancer."
Through the Komen grants, Planned Parenthood says its health centers provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and more than 6,400 mammogram referrals over the past five years.
Komen, in its statement, said it was immediately starting an outreach to its affiliates and supporters to get the charity back on track.
"We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue," Komen said. "We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics -- anyone's politics."
On Tuesday, when Komen's plans to stop funding Planned Parenthood were revealed, there was an immediate and powerful reaction. Anti-abortion activists, long opponents of Planned Parenthood, applauded the decision, and said that they would now be able to support Komen's activities.
But others decried what they considered a political act by a charity that had become ubiquitous in the fight against breast cancer.
A family foundation in Dallas made a $250,000 donation to Planned Parenthood, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a $250,000 matching pledge against future donations. In Washington, 26 U.S. senators -- all Democrats except for independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- signed a letter calling on Komen to reconsider its decision.
"It would be tragic if any woman -- let alone thousands of women -- lost access to these potentially lifesaving screenings because of a politically motivated attack," they wrote.
On Thursday, Komen's top leaders held their first news conference since the controversy erupted and denied that its decision was driven by pressure from anti-abortion groups.
"We don't base our funding decisions ... on whether one side or the other will be pleased," said Komen's founder and CEO, Nancy Brinker.
While previously Komen had said it had merely decided to bar grants to organizations under investigation, Brinker insisted there were additional factors, notably changes in the types of breast-health service providers it wanted to support.
A source with direct knowledge of decision-making at Komen's headquarters in Dallas gave a different account, saying the new policies were adopted with the deliberate intention of targeting Planned Parenthood. According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions, a driving force behind the move was Karen Handel, hired by Komen last year as vice president for public policy after losing a campaign for governor in Georgia in which she stressed her anti-abortion views and frequently denounced Planned Parenthood.
Brinker, in an interview with MSNBC, said Handel didn't have a significant role in the policy change.
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San Jose Mercury-News
San Jose, California USA
Friday 3 February 2012
The Susan G. Komen Foundation revealed its true colors Tuesday, and there wasn't a hint of its trademark pink in sight. Komen put red-state, right-wing politics above low-income women's health, pure and simple, with its decision to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood to pay for breast cancer screenings.
It could be the most cowardly act by a health foundation in U.S. history.
Fortunately, the backlash has been powerful, particularly among the many professional women who until now have valued and supported both charities and suddenly feel betrayed. Their voices and their financial support need to remain strong on behalf of the women with no health insurance whose care makes up 97 percent of Planned Parenthood's work -- a fact often drowned out by the political static over the 3 percent involving abortions. In rural areas, Planned Parenthood health clinics often are the only places women can receive any type of health care.
Komen gave Planned Parenthood almost $700,000 in 2011 to provide poor women with breast cancer screenings who otherwise would not have received them; mammograms aren't free. About 170,000 women benefitted. Withdrawing the money and reducing the number of early detections of breast cancer will hand some of those women a death sentence. How pro-life is that?
Komen CEO Nancy Brinker, sister of the late Susan G. Komen, asserts that the decision wasn't political.
Give us a break. Brinker is a major Republican donor who was ambassador to Hungary in the George W. Bush administration. The foundation's relationship with Planned Parenthood was never a warm one. Then, in 2010, Brinker hired Karen Handel as senior vice president for public policy. When Handel ran for governor of Georgia, she drew the endorsement of Sarah Palin by describing herself as "staunchly and unequivocally pro-life."
At Komen, she immediately began a full review of the foundation's grants and declared a policy of denying funding to any organization under investigation by federal, state or local authorities. Imagine how shocked, shocked, she was when [Republican] Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns soon after announced a congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood.
This is the same Stearns who was ridiculed this past spring for filing an amendment that forces all 9/11 first responders requesting compensation for injuries to first be checked against the terrorist watch list to make sure they're not terrorists. The Stearns whose stated goal is to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding, "now and forever," even though the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding for abortions.
Planned Parenthood has meticulously kept any federal dollars as well as Komen grants separate from these services. The Health and Human Services inspector general and state Medicaid programs conduct audits of Planned Parenthood. The findings are a matter of public record. The congressional investigation is purely a political tool to cut health care for poor women.
Both Komen and Planned Parenthood over the years have saved lives and helped women who had no place else to turn for care. What a tragedy that right-wing politics has intervened in what should be common cause.
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The Baltimore Sun
daily broadsheet, Maryland USA
Friday 3 February 2012
Komen controversy puts
Karen Handel criticized
by Yvonne Wenger and Jill Rosen, The Baltimore Sun
As the funding controversy swirled around Susan G. Komen for the Cure this week, much of the criticism was directed not at the group's chief executive but at a Maryland native who serves as a senior policy adviser.
Karen Handel, who faced a hard-luck childhood in Prince George's County [a suburb of Washington DC], has been painted in the media as an architect of the group's decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood, and many critics took aim at her background as a candidate for Georgia governor in 2010. In the Republican primary race -- in which she was endorsed by both Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin -- she showcased her anti-abortion philosophy and promised to cut state grants to Planned Parenthood.
Komen's founder and CEO, Nancy G. Brinker, in an interview with MSNBC [cable TV news channel], denied that Handel drove the organization's decision.
Still, some critics pointed to a comment Handel, Komen's vice president for public policy, made on the social media site Twitter.
After the Planned Parenthood news erupted, Handel, though not the original author, sent this message to her Twitter followers: "Just like a pro-abortion group to turn a cancer orgs decision into a political bomb to throw. Cry me a freaking river."
She later deleted the comment, but it was captured as a screen grab and widely circulated.
The spotlight of politics and the Komen debate seem an unlikely twist for Handel, 49, who has described a rough upbringing -- which led Palin to call her a "self-made, strong woman who pulled herself up by her bootstraps."
During the 2010 campaign, Handel told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she left her family home in Upper Marlboro when she was 17 years old to get away from her mother, whom she described as an alcoholic who had pulled a gun on her.
Handel, whose maiden name was Karen Walker, graduated in 1980 from Frederick Douglass High School in Prince George's County. She then worked, taking college courses at nights and on weekends. She said she took the certified public accountant's exam without earning a degree.
"Remember the context of my life," she told the newspaper in 2010. "I'm on my own at 17. My first job was at AARP. I think I made $9,050 a year. The idea I could go to college at night, get enough credits in accounting and sit for the CPA, I was like, 'Wow, I can have a real life.'"
Neither Handel nor the Komen organization responded to a request from The Baltimore Sun for comment.
Handel has not been quoted in the major media since the Planned Parenthood controversy began.
Handel attended Prince George's Community College and the University of Maryland, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Rob Simms, a close friend who aided Handel's political career, said she relocated from the Washington metropolitan area to Georgia when her husband, Steve, accepted a job offer. The Handels have been married for about 20 years and have no children.
"I think Karen, as long as I've known her, felt a calling to serve and be an active participant in her community and her state," Simms said Friday. "Karen is a very driven, smart, independent person. I think those qualities and traits were certainly, in part, developed as she was growing up and dealing with what was not the best or ideal family situation."
After Handel lost the 2010 GOP primary to Nathan Deal, who went on to become governor, she weighed her options and found the breast cancer advocacy group to be a good fit, Simms said. Handel had worked as deputy chief of staff to Marilyn Quayle, wife of former Vice President Dan Quayle, as part of her breast cancer awareness outreach efforts.
That program, according to Handel's Facebook page, eventually led to the founding of Komen's Race for the Cure.
Simms said Handel now splits her time between Atlanta and Washington for her job with Komen.
He said that Georgia is home to Handel, but she still has family in the Washington region. And he noted that her Maryland upbringing helped shape who she is today, including her love for the National Football League's Colts, who were based in Baltimore before moving to Indianapolis.
Simms and Handel met about 12 years ago when they worked in Fulton County, Ga., the county in which Atlanta lies. He worked on her campaigns and served as her deputy after she was elected Georgia's
secretary of state. Simms is now chief of staff to Rep. Bill Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican.
Handel moved to Georgia in the 1990s, and got her political start as chairwoman of the Fulton County Commission before becoming the state's first Republican secretary of state since the Civil War.
Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, said Handel is "quite conservative" and moved even further to the right when she became a statewide candidate.
Officials at Planned Parenthood in Georgia were taken aback by Handel's criticism as a gubernatorial candidate. Until then, she had been supportive of the organization's mission, sais Leola Reis, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood Southeast.
Reis and others had previously applauded Handel, who had defended Georgia's funding of Fulton County breast cancer screenings and family-planning services when other lawmakers proposed cutting it.
"She had previously indicated an appreciation and an understanding of the work that Planned Parenthood does," Reis said. "Then she turned around and used it as a battle cry in her campaign."
Handel often spoke of her opposition of abortion except in the cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life was at risk. Even so, she came under fire from Georgia Right to Life, whose leadership did not find her to be "pro-life enough," according to the Journal-Constitution.
During the campaign, Handel also found herself embroiled in a controversy over her association with a group of gay and lesbian voters, known as the Log Cabin Republicans, according to the Journal-Constitution.
The former head of the GOP group released emails from 2002 and 2003 from Handel's address, while she was a candidate for Fulton County commissioner, that indicate she supported granting benefits to county employees in same-sex domestic partnerships, the newspaper reported.
Handel denied supporting same-sex partnerships and said that while on the commission she voted against a plan to extend benefits to domestic partners.
Bullock said the flap damaged her candidacy but wasn't its death knell, and Handel won the commissioner election.
If Handel takes the fall for the Planned Parenthood controversy, Bullock said, she could end up gaining. Conservatives might see her a "sacrificial lamb" and be eager to sign her up for a Republican cause.
Handel said in an April 12 statement, when she accepted the vice president's job, that the mission of Susan G. Komen for the Cure was extremely important, given the federal government's budget constraints.
According to the statement on the organization's website, she said: "It is imperative that Komen leads the charge with policymakers to help ensure access to crucial breast cancer screening and treatment programs for the millions of women around the country who need them."
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