Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s vice president for public policy, Karen Handel, has resigned from the charity following the recent dispute over whether or not the group should continue should offer funding to Planned Parenthood, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
Handel told Komen officials of her support to stop any funding of Planned Parenthood, which provides a range of women’s heath care services, but also said the discussion to do so began prior to her arrival at the charity, and was approved at the top levels. A source with direct knowledge of decision-making at the charity’s headquarters said Handel was a powerful influence in the effort to cut funding.
"I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it," Handel said in her letter. "I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen's future and the women we serve."
Handel also said that the board did not object when introduced to the policy, which was originally presented in November.
The announcement of the funding cuts to Planned Parenthood has been the focus of much media attention and has created a large backlash from supporters of Planned Parenthood.
Komen Founder and CEO Nancy G. Brinker said in a joint statement with the Komen Foundation’s board of directors that the events of the week "have been deeply unsettling" because of "the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not."
Brinker also committed to restoring funding back to Planned Parenthood, which raised $3 million for its emergency breast health fund, created in the wake of Komen's announcement earlier this week. Brinker said the board members were trying to abide by their new rule, which cut off funding for organizations that were under investigation.
Brinker said she accepted Handel’s resignation and wished her well.
"We have made mistakes in how we have handled recent decisions and take full accountability for what has resulted, but we cannot take our eye off the ball when it comes to our mission," Brinker said in a statement. "To do this effectively, we must learn from what we've done right, what we've done wrong and achieve our goal for the millions of women who rely on us."
Republican members of Congress, led by Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns, have launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood, which has long been the target of conservatives because of its availability to perform abortions and provide birth control. That probe caused the revocation of funds, a spokeswoman for Komen told the AP.