Karen Handel Resigns from Komen (Amid Copious Spin and Nonpologies)

The good news: Karen Handel, anti-choice politician and failed gubernatorial candidate-turned-VP of policy for Komen, has resigned.

The bad news: her resignation statement, which has been released, is a ridiculous batch of defensive spin and nonpologies, and there's no hint that Komen, as an org, has actually learned a single damn thing from this whole sordid affair.
However, Komen’s decision to change its granting strategy and exit the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its grants was fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization. [...] I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. 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. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen’s mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy. [...] What was a thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision – one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact – has unfortunately been turned into something about politics. This is entirely untrue. This development should sadden us all greatly.
TL;DR: Waahhhh, I'm the victim here, I'm being scapegoated for something the whole organization was on board with, and also pro-choicers who rallied around PP are a bunch of meanies who turned this into a political thing (because it totes wasn't before).

There are two ways we can take the claim that the whole organization was on board with and agreed to/encouraged the defunding of PP's grant.  It's either true, and the decision truly was "vetted at every appropriate level within the organization" (although the use of "appropriate" certainly lends that statement quite a bit of ambiguity; "appropriate" may just mean "my desk" for all we know), or it's a defensive attempt to deflect the hot spotlight of public criticism away from her own face.  Either way, it doesn't really win Komen back any points.  If it's true, and this was an org-wide decision, it just means the whole damn thing is riddled with anti-choicers and/or anti-choice sentiment, and ought to be tossed even harder out on its ass in the rain.  If it's the spin I suspect it is, it's a sad little lie that nevertheless means the org was infiltrated but good, and can no longer be trusted because if it happened once, it can happen again.

I'm also rolling my eyes so hard I'm surprised I haven't sprained anything at the contention that the decision "was turned into something political".  As if taking advantage of a spurious, vendetta-based sham "investigation" by a politician with an ax to grind in order to justify cutting off funding to one of the biggest providers of early detection exams to underserved communities was somehow an apolitical decision, and we who responded should be ashamed of ourselves for "making it political".  Yeah, how about no.  A former politician guided the org to make a move against another org which has been targeted by political maneuvering, and you want to claim it wasn't political?  Pfffft.

Oh, and by the way - if it was really about "distancing the organization from scandal" with a position-neutral change to grant rules, as opposed to a targeted move against PP, then why is Komen still giving grant money to Penn State, which is under very public, very visible investigation for covering up child abuse?  If you want to make the claim that your new rule is totes apolitical, you should probably make it plausible by applying the rule apolitically.

This is just more damage-control and PR from Komen, in a desperate attempt to save what little face they have left.  But I'm still going to hold out hope that enough has been shown of their unethical nature, to enough people over the course of the past couple weeks, that they will end up fading back from the public eye, making room for better orgs to carry on the work of researching cures and supporting patients and survivors, without all the drama and pink ribbon$.


Erin Smith said...

re: Penn State

If I was to place a bet, it would be that *if* anyone chooses to respond to that issue, it would be some kind of BS about how Penn State, as an organization, isn't "about" abusing children, but Planned Parenthood, as an organization, is "about" abortion.

Basically, they would claim that they're willing to give Penn State money because any child abuse and cover ups of same were done by individuals, not the organization. Sort of how DVDs all have "any comments or opinions expressed are the opinions of the individuals in question and do not reflect the opinions of the network or it's affiliates" on them, as a get out of censure free card for if an actor expresses an opinion that proves to be less popular than the network that directed them to say what they said anticipated lol.

Jadelyn said...

Except that, at least ostensibly, their reason for cutting off PP wasn't because they do abortions, it was because of the bullshit congressional investigation.  If they'd said "We're not gonna fund PP anymore because abortion is a controversial subject", then yeah, they could definitely use that particular spin to defend their continuing to fund Penn State.  But it's not just about abortion (on paper, anyway), it's about "being under investigation", which is a status both orgs (Penn and PP) undeniably share.  So, I mean, they *could* try that defense, but I don't think it would hold up, even in general public opinion, much less before activist communities.


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