Handel, a former GOP gubernatorial candidate, became a lightning rod for criticism when Komen decided to stop funding Planned Parenthood, a move it reversed after a maelstrom of negative feedback. It had been suggested that Handel, a pro-life critic of Planned Parenthood, orchestrated the controversial move.
In her resignation letter, Handel said:
“I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen’s mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy. I believe that Komen, like any other nonprofit organization, has the right and the responsibility to set criteria and highest standards for how and to whom it grants.”