Handel’s Pariah

7 February 2012: DC Exile Day 14

Earlier this morning, Mother Jones reported that Karen Handel, Vice President of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, resigned her position amid the recent hoopla.

The hoopla, if you haven’t read yet, is about Komen’s decision to stop giving grant money to Planned Parenthood.

The outcry was vast, rapid and uplifting. GF has been working for years to point out the dangers of money and corporations within the breast cancer movement and the hypocrisy of “racing for a cure” while placing pink ribbons on products that are known to cause cancer. (If you’re interested in getting involved in this kind of activism, I’m sure GF would recommend several organizations: Breast Cancer Action, The Breast Cancer Fund, National Women’s Health Network and Women’s Voices for the Earth.)

While I am glad Handel resigned, I find her resignation letter insulting and condescending. At one point she states:

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.

I believe Komen made the decision about politics when they singled out an abortion provider that also happens to be one of the largest providers of breast cancer screenings for low-income women. And I don’t think the “development” Handel mentions should “sadden us all greatly.” We should have every right and every avenue to call “bull shit” on companies, nonprofits, organizations and leaders who negate their own mission by undermining healthcare for their own political reasons.

I do hope that Komen continues as an organization, but I hope they are forced to take a hard look at how and why they exist.

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