Shots - Health Blog
5:31 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Planned Parenthood Still In Cross Hairs

Originally published on Tue February 7, 2012 6:26 pm

One of the driving forces behind the now-reversed decision to cancel funding to Planned Parenthood has stepped down from her executive position at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.

But the resignation of Karen Handel, an outspoken opponent of the reproductive health group, hasn't slowed down foes of Planned Parenthood.

Even as Handel was on her way out the door, two anti-abortion groups were releasing a report intended to push Republicans in Congress to continue their investigation of Planned Parenthood.

A 23-page memo from the Susan B. Anthony List and the Alliance Defense Fund outlines what those groups' leaders say are a series of funding irregularities uncovered in various state and federal audits of Planned Parenthood affiliates.

"These problems reveal a pattern of gross financial mismanagement," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List.

Steven Aden, the Alliance Defense Fund's senior counsel, added, "The 10 state audits amounted to nearly 8 million dollars in waste, abuse and potential fraud."

Planned Parenthood, however, brushed off the accusations. "This document is part of a campaign by conservative groups seeking to outlaw access to reproductive health care and uses recycled or overstated allegations," the organization said in a statement.

The Planned Parenthood statement also noted that "the same groups pushing for a congressional inquiry have also been behind the pressure campaign aimed at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and other important organizations."

But in her first public statements since resigning, Handel said it was Planned Parenthood making things political. "The last time I checked, private nonprofit organizations have a right and a responsibility to be able to set the highest standards and criteria on their own without interference, let alone the level of vicious attacks and coercion that has occurred by Planned Parenthood," she told Fox News. "It's simply outrageous."

Handel, however, who ran unsuccessfully for governor of Georgia in 2010 on a platform that included defunding Planned Parenthood, acknowledged that she urged Komen to defund the organization. Komen officials have now apologized for that decision.

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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The fallout continues from last week's spat between Planned Parenthood and the breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen For the Cure. Today, a top Komen official resigned. The move comes after the group reversed its earlier decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. NPR's Julie Rovner has this report.

JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: Komen officials, trying to regain their footing from last week's public relations meltdown, today accepted the resignation of vice president Karen Handel. She was deputy chief of staff to Marilyn Quayle when she was the wife of the vice president in the early 1990s. In 2010, Handel ran unsuccessfully for governor of Georgia, on a platform that included taking state funds away from Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile, however, two anti-abortion groups released a report intended to urge Republicans in Congress to continue their investigation of the group. The Susan B. Anthony List and the Alliance Defense Fund released a 23-page memo outlining what it said were a series of funding irregularities uncovered in various state and federal audits of Planned Parenthood affiliates.

Marjorie Dannenfelser heads the Susan B. Anthony List.

MARJORIE DANNENFELSER: These problems reveal a pattern of gross financial mismanagement.

ROVNER: Planned Parenthood said in a statement that the allegations in the report were, quote, recycled or overstated.

And Democrats in Congress, like Colorado's Diana DeGette, insist that the entire investigation against Planned Parenthood is a political exercise trumped up by abortion opponents.

REP. DIANA DEGETTE: Planned Parenthood has done everything they've been asked to do. And with their own, private money; with, I think, 3 percent of their services or less, they do do abortions - which the last I heard, were legal in this country.

ROVNER: But on her way out the door, Karen Handel said it was Planned Parenthood making things political. Here she is on Fox News this afternoon.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)

KAREN HANDEL: Last time I checked, private, nonprofit organizations have a right and a responsibility to be able to set the highest standards and criteria, on their own, without interference - let alone the level of vicious attacks and coercion that has occurred by Planned Parenthood. It's simply outrageous.

ROVNER: Handel, however, did acknowledge she pushed to defund Planned Parenthood, a decision for which Komen officials have now apologized.

Julie Rovner, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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