Friday, February 3, 2012 / 8:24 pm
Erecting Hurdles in the Komen Race for the Cure
VP Karen Handel lets ideology trump science.
by Jim Washburn
So the Susan G. Komen Foundation has provisionally reversed is decision to defund Planned Parenthood, after donors and decent people everywhere were outraged by that decision. Komen’s directors may have been forced to adopt a change in strategy, but don’t expect that they’ve also had a change of heart.
They’ve tried to explain that there was nothing political or pro-life in the new guidelines they adopted that denied funding to any group under investigation, and there certainly is an argument to be made for wanting everything to appear squeaky-clean and above board when you’re asking donors to entrust you with kaboodles of money.
But Jeffrey Goldberg has reported in The Atlantic that three separate inside sources have told him that Komen Senior VP Karen Handel had pushed the new guidelines and that they were tailored specifically to allow Komen to give Planed Parenthood the heave-ho; crafted to work in concert with conservative whack-job congressman Cliff Stearns' investigation of Planned Parenthood. Stearns says he suspects they are using federal funds to provide abortions (which is against the law, thanks to previous conservative whack-jobs), even though every previous investigation has proved unfounded.
The Komen foundation has amended its guidelines to now only cut off funding in the case of conclusive criminal investigations, not political ones, which is how the guideline should have been written by any sensible and even slightly lawyered-up organization.
So, OK, everything’s hunky dory now, or should be, except focus on the dispute has brought to light information that suggests VP Handel may be of a mindset that could change the organization’s Race for the Cure, which she heads, into a steeplechase, erecting ideological hurdles between women and the science and practice of breast cancer health.
Handel is a conservative Republican, a former Georgia secretary of state and 2010 candidate for governor, when one of her touted aims was to defund Planned Parenthood at the state level. In her blog at the time, she wrote, “since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.”
Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but when you are dealing with, for example, CANCER, you don’t want someone deciding policy who puts their beliefs ahead of science or the sound practice of medicine. Planned Parenthood has been an effective partner of Komen for years, and has delivered quality, compassionate, cost-effective care—including all-important breast exams–to American women for the better part of a century.
There are other instances of Handel taking positions or pursuing courses of action that diverged from science or reason. As GA Secretary of State, two of her signal achievements were getting a law passed to make it harder for people to vote, and investigating voter fraud, despite such fraud having been found to be nearly non-existent, and instead an excuse the George W. Bush administration was pushing to disenfranchise poor and presumably Democratic-leaning voters.
Then there’s Handel’s stand on gay adoption, related in an interview unearthed today by blogger John Aravosis.
Handel: As a Christian, marriage is between a man and a woman. I do not think that gay relationships are—they are not what God intended. And that’s just my viewpoint on it… I am against gay adoption.
Interviewer: Would you favor outlawing gay adoptions?
Handel: Yeah, I would consider that, absolutely.
Interviewer: Do you know any gay couples with children?
Handel: Not that I’m aware of.
Interviewer: I want to know why you think gay parents aren’t as legitimate as heterosexual parents.
Handel: Because I don’t.
The American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and others would disagree with her on that, which rather begs the question:
Do you want someone deciding policy in a science-based organization who can choose to ignore science on a whim, who won't believe facts simply “because I don’t”?