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Insider book details Komen-Planned Parenthood rift
Blistering account » Ex-V.P. says Parenthood is an aggressive group pushing liberal agenda, and Komen is indecisive and naive.

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"Planned Parenthood would play the victim, accusing Komen of being bullies and succumbing to political pressure," she writes. "I felt in my heart of hearts that Komen would not have the fortitude to see this through ... and somehow knew that I would be the scapegoat."

A major complication, according to Handel’s book, was that Komen’s leaders struggled to pinpoint how they would publicly justify halting the grants to Planned Parenthood.

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On one hand, the cancer charity sought to develop new criteria that would disqualify the Planned Parenthood grants on the grounds they were not cost-effective. Handel also determined that the grants could be suspended on grounds that Planned Parenthood was under investigation at the state and federal level, notably a probe launched by a conservative Republican congressman at the urging of anti-abortion groups.

During the three days after the grant cutoff was reported, Komen was inconsistent in efforts to explain its move — citing the investigation angle initially, the granting criteria at later points, and, in Handel’s view, damaging itself with changing messages.

Another key point in that tumultuous week came on Feb. 2, when Brinker granted an interview to Andrea Mitchell of NBC News.

Handel says a session held that morning to prepare Brinker was "complete pandemonium," and the Komen CEO headed to the interview "dazed and unsure."

The result, writes Handel, was a "fiasco" — highlighted by aggressive questioning from Mitchell, who asked why Komen would have hired Handel given her disapproval of Planned Parenthood.

Brinker replied, "Karen did not have anything to do with this decision" — and Handel writes that she immediately thought, "Oh no. That was not true. I was part of the decision-making process."

Once the controversy spilled into the public arena, Handel says Komen was "outgunned and overwhelmed" by Planned Parenthood and its Democratic allies, who depicted the grant decision as part of a conservative "war on women."

In an interview, Handel said she had no specific professional plans at this stage, having been busy with her book for the past few months. She said she wished Komen well, and expressed hope that her book would provide useful ammunition for critics of Planned Parenthood.

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The book is being published by Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster with a focus on evangelical Christian themes.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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