It seems like a decade has passed since the raging controversy over Komen’s reversal on funding Planned Parenthood. The truth is, that drama is less than a year old. A new book by a central character in the political theater orchestrated by Planned Parenthood argues that it was actually an opening salvo in the president’s re-election effort.
Karen Handel has decided to tell her side of the story. She was the Republican Vice-President of the Komen Foundation in charge of Public Policy. She was also the victim of a dark public relations campaign by the Abortion Industry and their allies in the Democrat Party. The book is entitled, Planned Bullyhood: The Truth About the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle With Komen.
She describes the coordinated attack made on Komen by Planned Parenthood, the Obama Administration, members of Congress and the National Democratic Committee. But before going into that political story, it is important to hear what Handel has to say about the reasons Komen decided to end grants to Planned Parenthood in the first place:
“The grants to Planned Parenthood – about $700,000 in 2011, or less than one-tenth of one percent of Planned Parenthood’s $1 billion annual budget – were not high quality grants. Planned Parenthood did not provide mammograms. Their educational programs were duplicative and there was virtually no way to determine what, if any, tangible, meaningful results were achieved. The decision to stop the Planned Parenthood grants had been months, even years, in the making.” (p.2)
Thus, the leadership of Komen sought to end its controversial financial support of Planned Parenthood for the very best of reasons: The organization was not materially advancing the fight to protect women from breast cancer – Komen’s central mission.
Handel relates that the majority of grants to Planned Parenthood were repeat grants – with local organizations receiving money year after year, many on the same vague grant proposal. For example, one PP affiliate had received years of funding from Komen for providing “free clinical breast exams” to women and girls coming to their clinics. Yet Planned Parenthood was providing those exams as part of its basic gynecological exams.
Even more alarming – such services were reimbursable under Medicare guidelines.
Another PP affiliate claimed its grant proposal to Komen that the money they provided would “save 450 women from dying of breast cancer”. As ridiculous as it seems, this unprovable claim was enough to justify years of funding from Komen.
In other words, Komen had a fiduciary responsibility to its donors to end the waste of their money to subsidize an organization which was not delivering measurable services to women in need.
In addition, the Komen leadership were under increasing pressure from the pro-Life community over the relationship. (Remember the scandal of the New Jersey Planned Parenthood employee helping a pimp gain abortion services for his teenage prostitute?) That was hurting Komen’s fundraising efforts.
Handel began to assert her view in 2010 that Komen must tighten its grants guidelines, and needed to find a way to disengage from the abortion fight: As she states numerous times in her book, Komen had no business being part of the abortion fight.
Part of her discomfort came from Handel realizing that, despite public claims to the contrary, Komen grants could, in many cases, be used to support the general administrative costs of maintaining Planned Parenthood clinics and operations – a direct subsidy to its primary operation of killing preborn children. (p 71).
Yet the internal discussions around this issue demonstrate that much of the staff and leadership in Komen was (and is) very supportive of Planned Parenthood’s agenda. The Vice President of Communications, for example, is reported to have argued that Komen could not end funding of Planned Parenthood since the latter organization was under intense public pressure because of things like the New Jersey scandal. Withdrawing now would be a “body blow” to Planned Parenthood.
Despite this internal opposition, the decision was made to end grants to Planned Parenthood for the reasons outlined above. Sensing the public relations controversy which might ensue, Komen reached out to Planned Parenthood months ahead of time. Handel claims that a “gentle ladies” agreement was reached to cooperate in the public relations effort to demonstrate that the policy change was an amicable break.
We know that it became anything but. Planned Parenthood unleashed a ferocious public attack on Komen and Handel – sufficiently ugly to cause Komen to reverse its position and accept Handel’s resignation.
Handel documents a close, historical relationship between Planned Parenthood and Komen officials. It is her contention that those relationships lay the groundwork for a well-planned public attack to seriously undermine Komen’s credibility.
We will talk in more detail about that campaign in our next update.
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