The leaders of the Komen foundation now realize they made a huge tactical error in deciding to defund Planned Parenthood. That decision had all the appearance of being motivated by politics. I don’t know why Komen took on Karen Handel* as Senior Vice President for Public Policy, but it is seems obvious that her presence was related to the defunding decision. My hope is that Komen can regain its credibility as a nonpolitical charity doing excellent work in fighting breast cancer. Realistically, the only way it can do this is to get rid of Karen Handel. It has yet to suggest that it is going to do that, although it has backpeddled on defunding.
The problem is, Komen has put itself into a dilemma. No doubt, founder Nancy G. Brinker and president Elizabeth Thompson did not expect the massive reaction to the funding decision. They can’t undo it now, and Komen will have to live with more criticism from both pro-choice and pro-life partisans.
Regarding Planned Parenthood, I don’t think this affair has hurt that organization at all. It had already been vilified by the religious right. Komen’s controversial move has only served to mobilize those who believe in Planned Parenthood’s mission, most of whom also believed in Komen’s mission, and supported it. That mission, to fight breast cancer, remains as important as ever. Will Susan G. Komen do what it needs to do in order to continue that work, or will it sink into a political morass?