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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Komen for the Cure VP resigns amid funding drama

From left, Jeanne Owers, Pat Hale, Kris Martin and Dawn Miefert protest outside the Susan G. Komen for the Cure headquarters in Dallas, Tuesday, Feb 7, 2012. delivered a petition with 832,000 signatures. Photo by /Rex C. Curry/Associated Press

The recent drama surrounding the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation unfolded further Tuesday with the resignation of one of the group’s top officials.

Karen Handel, senior vice president for public policy, said she would step down after she was at the center of the controversy over the foundation’s cuts to funding for Planned Parenthood, which have since been reversed.

Handel, who describes herself as pro-life, wrote in a letter Tuesday that she declined a severance package from the foundation.

The Komen controversy began Jan. 31, when the Associated Press reported the breast cancer charity’s plans to eliminate its grants to Planned Parenthood, which amounted to $680,000 in 2011.

Komen affiliates and women’s rights activists responded with a massive outcry, accusing the foundation of caving to pro-life political pressures. Komen abandoned its plans to cut funding to Planned Parenthood on Friday, but Eve Ellis, one of the group’s major fundraisers and a former affiliate group board member, called for CEO Nancy Brinker’s resignation yesterday.

Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, said in an initial press release that women across Wisconsin were both “alarmed and saddened” that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation had pulled funding in response to political pressure from what she called a coercive minority.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Stephanie Wilson was unavailable for comment at press time.

Planned Parenthood sits on Wisconsin Ave. Photo by Martina Ibanez/[email protected]

Marquette political science professor John McAdams said he thought the event was part of a national issue.

“If it was a matter of principle that they should not have funded Planned Parenthood, they should not have caved in to pressure from liberals,” McAdams said. “But if it was fine to fund Planned Parenthood, they should never have rescinded the funding under pressure from pro-life forces.”

McAdams said the importance of breast-cancer screenings for middle-aged women are undoubtedly crucial. However, he stressed that breast cancer screenings are not going away anytime soon.

“This might be more of a moral quandary if Planned Parenthood were the only way to get breast cancer screenings,” McAdams said. “But it isn’t.”

However, Mara Schuh, a sophomore in the College of Nursing, said for many people, Planned Parenthood seems to be the preferred place for treatment.

“It tends to be more private than going to a doctor,” Schuh said. “More patients may be comfortable there.”

Last year, Planned Parenthood Wisconsin performed 11,192 cervical cancer screenings, according to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.

Julie Pope, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said services regarding breast cancer are crucial in sustaining health.

“A lot of people’s insurance doesn’t pay for services like screenings,” Pope said. “Breast cancer runs in my family, and I don’t want to have to wait for my insurance to pay for it. For many people, Planned Parenthood is the option.”

Pope acknowledged that Komen’s final decision to reinstate funding is advantageous. However, she said the uncertainty regarding the happenings last week are still unsettling.

“That is awful to flip-flop like that,” Pope said. “Leaders should be firm in their beliefs.”

McAdams echoed Pope’s statement in addressing political pressures.

“Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid getting caught up in the culture wars,” McAdams said. “But if you do, the best policy is to take a side on principle and stick with it.”

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