Karen Handel built her career on sound fiscal and organizational management in both the public and private sector. With tremendous perseverance and determination, she has had a successful political and business career. Karen has held senior management positions with several major companies and served as president of one of Georgia’s largest chambers of commerce. Most recently, Karen served as Senior Vice President of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, overseeing its federal and state policy efforts. She has served as Georgia’s first elected Republican Secretary of State, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Sonny Perdue. Karen and her husband Steve have been married for twenty years and reside in Georgia.
Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines About the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cureby Karen Handel
In 2011, Susan G. Komen for the Cure was growing weary of the “pink” being tarnished by its health grants to Planned Parenthood (PPH), whose many controversies were fueling backlash against Komen. They wanted to remove themselves from the pro-life/abortion debate and made what they thought was a rational, reasonable decision: seek neutral/b>
In 2011, Susan G. Komen for the Cure was growing weary of the “pink” being tarnished by its health grants to Planned Parenthood (PPH), whose many controversies were fueling backlash against Komen. They wanted to remove themselves from the pro-life/abortion debate and made what they thought was a rational, reasonable decision: seek neutral ground in the culture war by severing ties with Planned Parenthood—and in turn, eliminate a major headache while opening a new, robust fund-raising channel.
Karen Handel, the organization’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy, was tasked with identifying options to disengage. In November, the Komen management and board decided to move forward. Komen believed that they and PPH had made a “gentle ladies” pact, agreeing to part ways amicably and acknowledging that a media firestorm was in no one’s best interest. Yet, six weeks later, PPH unleashed a media campaign so viral and so seamlessly executed that it must have been in the works for some time. PPH attacked Komen against the backdrop of the Obama administration’s clash with the Catholic Church over contraception. After just three days, following hysterical cries that “Komen was abandoning women,” Komen capitulated and reversed course. Handel—a lifelong pro-life Republican who was raised Catholic—was immediately made the target. She resigned within days of Komen’s reversal. Liberals called her a right-wing Trojan horse. The pro-life community hailed her as a hero. She insists she is neither.
Why did Planned Parenthood attack? Was Komen simply a pawn in something bigger? In this book, Karen Handel finally speaks.
For at least a decade, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, had been dealing with the backlash from pro-life conservatives because of its grants to Planned Parenthood, the world’s largest abortion provider. According to Karen Handel, Komen’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy in 2011, the two organizations had mutually agreed to part ways amicably, but then Planned Parenthood surprisingly unleashed a media attack against Komen, waving the banner of women’s health as a shield for its underlying political agenda. Public criticism against Komen intensified with damaging consequences, eventually concluding in Komen’s surrender and Karen’s resignation.
In daring to walk away, Komen had unwittingly ignited a battle in which it became collateral damage in a larger election-year war between liberals and conservatives for the souls (and votes!) of women and the nation’s conscience—with abortion and contraception linked as ultimate wedge issues.
What exactly went on inside this firestorm of controversy? Were there larger forces at play? In this tell-all, highly charged account, Karen Handel breaks the silence and finally reveals what really happened in the winter of 2011.
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Politics is a messy business, and no one who ever engages in it escapes unscathed. Unfortunately, politics is increasingly becoming an integral part of all sorts of organizations and activities, many of which would at least on the surface seem non-political or non-controversial. This, it seems, has happened to one of the best-recognized and universally respected non-profit health awareness organizations in the world: Susan B. Komen. Komen fell victim to the ugly politics of the culture wars, and to the shameless bullying on the part of Planned Parenthood. Like most other non-profit organization Komen has been trying to make its granting process more streamlined and results driven, which invariably meant that many organizations – such as Planned Parenthood – would become ineligible for the continuing financial support. This created a huge backlash from the left-wing organizations and politicians, the consequences of which are still being felt to this day. At the center of this controversy was Karen Handle, former secretary of state of Georgia and Komen’s senior VP for public affairs. As one of the most prominent conservative and Republican members of Komen’s staff, she was made into the scapegoat and had felt compelled to resign her position. “Planned Bullyhood” is Karen’s attempt to set the record straight and clear up her reputation. The opening chapter of the book is a brief biographical sketch of Karen’s life up to her hiring by Komen. It is a very interesting life story, filled with many personal and professional triumphs, as well as bitter disappointments. It is told straightforwardly without much embellishment. Even though she seems to have been a significant figure in Georgian politics for years, Karen is less known to the wider national audience. Karen presents herself as a strong and feisty person who is not easily intimidated. However, she also uses this part of the book to settle old scores with some of her former political opponents and rivals. Even though her account of her past political The major pert of the book is dedicated, as is to be expected, to Karen’s experience at Komen. She goes into a great detail describing Komen’s operations and her own involvement in this organization. She also names many current and former Komen employees, senor staff, and affiliates who had been involved with the whole Planned Parenthood fiasco. This is a very revealing and informative book in its own right. It has provided me with a new level of insight into the operations of major organizations, their day-to-day activities, and the interplay of nonprofit, politics, and the media. This is probably one of the strongest features of this book. The central point of this book is the following: Panned Parenthood’s reaction to the discontinuation of Komen’s funding has been premeditated, politicized, and designed to create the biggest positive negative impact on Komen. To any reasonable person who knows anything about the operations of Planned Parenthood this would not come as a surprise. That organization has become a major political force in its own right, and one of the pillars of the liberal and Democratic establishments. They are ruthless and disingenuous when it comes to dealing with all of their political opponents. Therefore all of the specific claims that Karen makes in her book are extremely plausible and ring true. Wherever it was possible Karen has tried to back her claims by links and citations of outside sources. Of cour
A Southern anti-choice right-wing Christian, she staffed the group with her cronies, and created such a hostile atmosphere that longterm employees and medical experts were foced to resign. Liar, liar, panties on fire.
This book just solidified by thoughts about Planned Parenthood - not good. I thought that the author took the reader through the steps from the beginning, so that we could understand the process, and that it wasn't an attempt to hurt Planned Parenthood. There was a lot of repeating in the book, but that was another illustration of how the leaders of Komen would hash and rehash the situation and the reaction. This showed how Komen's decision was well thought out. I applaud the author for the courage to step out and challenge the 'dragon'.