End divisive partisan politics and return to a non-partisan, science-based approach to supporting breast cancer screening and research for a cure.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation can do this in 3 ways:
1. Fire Karen Handel as SVP of Public Policy, [UPDATED -- she resigned on 2/7/12]
2. Reaffirm a non-partisan approach to breast cancer prevention for women which includes funding organizations that provide women's health services,
3. Continue to support embryonic stem cell research centers, which could one day be crucial in the search for a cure for breast cancer.
Why is this important?
An empty chair at the table during the holidays: a woman who flies to be at the bedside of her dying sister, or perhaps a woman with breast cancer who’s left for hospice knowing she’ll never sit in celebration at the family dinner table again. A very much missed and loved aunt, mother, daughter, wife, cousin, grandmother, or partner. Laughter we won’t ever hear again, a hug that’s gone forever. These are the holes left in our lives when we lose the women we love. We try to fill them with memories, and honor those absences with support for the survivors of breast cancer -- hoping, always, for a cure.
You, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, have betrayed that grief and those hopes.
With one act you’ve nearly destroyed yourselves. Put it right. Do these three things.
1. As SVP of Public Policy for the Komen Foundation, Karen Handel has introduced controversy and political divisiveness into a formerly universally inclusive campaign to help ALL women with breast cancer achieve early detection and treatment. Speaking on behalf of the Komen Foundation, a self-proclaimed non-partisan non-profit, Handel claims the organization’s recent decision to end funding for breast cancer screening exams at Planned Parenthood is a result of a new policy that excludes funds from organizations “under investigation” for wrongdoing. But the current Congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood has been widely criticized as a baseless political stunt.
Other grantees awarded money by the Komen Foundation have recently been "under investigation" in apparent violation of the same policy that caused Komen, to defund Planned Parenthood. For example, the Komen Foundation recently granted $7.5 million to Penn State University, which is currently under federal investigation in the wake of an alleged coverup of child sex abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. That grant has not been rescinded.
Karen Handel herself was the center of a Department of Justice investigation into her failure to impartially uphold voting rights laws while Georgia's Secretary of State. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution's reporting on the story: "Justice Department lawyers said Handel’s office had created a system that 'does not produce accurate and reliable information and that thousands of citizens who are in fact eligible to vote under Georgia law have been flagged.'” The Department of Justice found Handel's policies to have actual measurable disparate effect on African American, Hispanic, and Asian American voters wrongly struck from the eligible voters database. By the rules Handel developed for the Komen Foundation, she herself should not be able to serve the Foundation.
Before joining the Komen Foundation, Karen Handel, as a candidate for Governor of Georgia, publicly stated her intention to de-fund Planned Parenthood. In 2010, Handel wrote on her campaign blog, “Let me be clear, since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood,” and promised to end grants that allow Planned Parenthood to provide basic health care to low-income women in the state.
And key Komen Foundation staffers have resigned in response to this violation of the organization’s original mission to put breast cancer awareness, prevention and treatment first. The Komen Foundation should not allow partisan politics, or Karen Handel’s personal political views, to interfere with low-income women’s access to breast cancer screenings.
2. We, the millions of supporters of the Komen Foundation's goals and the men, women, and children of families whose women have been diagnosed with breast cancer, ask for a public statement of assurance that the Komen Foundation will put the interests of women with breast cancer first, and restore the Planned Parenthood grants.
3. We also ask the Komen Foundation to reaffirm and renew your funding commitment to embryonic stem cell research centers, which could one day reveal the cure for this devastating cancer and many others.