Sunday, October 7, 2012

Planned Bullyhood: A Book Review

“Planned Bullyhood,” Karen Handel’s clear-eyed analysis of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure funding battle with Planned Parenthood, is vindication for all pro-lifers who already know that Planned Parenthood is a deceptive, vicious organization.  Handel, former Senior Vice President of Komen, just had to learn it the hard way.  Her book, released in early September, has been met with – wait for it – deafening silence from the media.  Well-written and compelling from beginning to end, it presents a tale of two organizations, both ostensibly concerned about women’s health, who ultimately go to war with one another.  Komen, unwilling to fight and unsure of their message, is no match for Planned Parenthood, who enlist the media, politicians, and vocal feminists to bully the breast health organization into submission. 

Handel, an intelligent, capable woman whose many career successes – both in business and politics – positioned her perfectly to manage Komen’s public policy team, joined the organization in late 2010 after a bruising run for governor in Georgia.  Her experience in the Georgia legislature as Secretary of State established her as a git-r-done kind of woman, a problem solver who liked challenges.  Komen would be the biggest challenge of her life.

The foundation sought someone to tighten and clarify the quality of grants given out to organizations so that all would be going directly towards helping women affected by breast cancer or helping to prevent the disease.  The concern with Planned Parenthood, who had been receiving grants from Komen affiliates for two decades, was that the organization should have already been disqualified as a grantee due to their lack of direct services (“pass-through” grants whereby money is given for services provided not by the grantee, but by an organization they refer clients to) and the fact that they were under investigation for fraud in multiple states.  Changing the grant strategy to reflect this new focus was an agreed-upon tactic of Komen’s higher-ups, specifically Founder and CEO, Nancy Brinker, and President Elizabeth Thompson.  Other players, such as Mollie Williams, managing director of community health and overseer of nearly $100 million community grant portfolio, Leslie Aun, vice-president of communications, and Katrina McGhee, executive vice-president of marketing, would emerge as either hostile or phlegmatic and confused, to the point Handel wondered whose side they were on.

That Planned Parenthood had been a thorn in Komen’s side for years is an eye-opener.  Komen feared losing support from Catholic organizations who objected to grants going to the nation’s largest abortion provider.  They also wanted to be free of the controversies associated with Planned Parenthood – multiple investigations into its policies that supported child predators, sex traffickers, sex selective abortions, and misuse of government funds.  Komen had a pre-existing policy that halted grants when an organization was under investigation.  Handel’s suggested strategy, to hammer away at the need to direct funds where they could do the most good for women, was a no-brainer.  She warned of mentioning Planned Parenthood specifically, saying numerous organizations would be affected by the new policy.  Unfortunately for her, vacillations over this policy, as well as leaks to the press suggesting Planned Parenthood would be targeted by Komen’s new policy led to a firestorm.

If any of you missed that particular brouhaha, shut my mouth.  Planned Parenthood’s collective screeching was heard the world over, with CEO Cecile Richards repeating the lie ad nauseum that millions of women would be denied important services should Komen cut off Planned Parenthood’s funding.  Among those services trumpeted by Richards were mammograms, something NO Planned Parenthood facility is equipped to do.  The funding she so feared losing amounted to $700,000, a drop in the bucket of Planned Parenthood’s annual intake of $1 BILLION, more than half derived from U.S. taxpayers.  What’s interesting is to read this through Handel’s eyes.  With every betrayal by Komen staff, every lie by Planned Parenthood, and every complicit move by the media, we the readers see the scales falling.  Unfortunately, she ends up as the sacrificial lamb of both organizations; but wiser, definitely wiser. 

It’s incredibly gratifying to read Handel’s summation of Planned Parenthood’s reason for being:  “Planned Parenthood is about politics as much as it is about abortion and reproductive health.  Specifically, Planned Parenthood’s politics is about money – government funding, actually, because without the government funds, Planned Parenthood would be forced to pursue a different revenue model.   The rhetoric on health, and especially women, is a smoke screen to hide its underlying political agenda – ensuring the continued flow of nearly $1.5 million a day in government funding and to elect pro-Planned Parenthood policy makers who, in turn, work tirelessly to keep the cash flowing.”  Here’s someone in the public arena, not affiliated with any pro-life group, who finally gets it.

It’s also gratifying to read through the end notes and see whom she has cited for all the dirty facts about Planned Parenthood.  It gives credence to LifeNews (specifically Steve Ertelt), Jill Stanek, and Lila Rose of LiveAction as some of the ONLY news outlets who are reporting on Planned Parenthood’s numerous and egregious deceptions.  Her omission on the abortion/contraception-breast cancer link is disappointing, given that it is a chief complaint by pro-lifers against most breast cancer organizations, including Komen.

Through the brutal treatment by Planned Parenthood, Komen is nonetheless revealed as an organization whose leaders are indecisive, with no clear vision of what their organization stands for.  They might have ridden out the storm, stared down the bully, and emerged victorious. That’s what Handel suggested.

Moira Sheridan
Secretary, Delaware Right to Life

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