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Komen Exec Karen Handel Quits After Planned Parenthood Funding Flap

NEW YORK (AP) -- A high-ranking official resigned Tuesday from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer charity after a dispute over whether the group should give funding to Planned Parenthood, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Karen Handel, the charity's vice president for public policy, told Komen officials she supported the move to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, though she said the discussion started before she arrived and was approved at the highest levels of the charity. A person with direct knowledge of decision-making at Komen's headquarters said Handel was a driving force behind the move to cut the funding.

"I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it,'' Handel said in her letter. "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.''

Handel said in the letter the now-abandoned policy was fully vetted by the Komen organization. Its board did not raise any objections when it was presented with the proposed policy in November, Handel said.

Komen Founder and CEO Nancy G. Brinker said she accepted Handel's resignation and wished her well.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Andrea Hagelgans declined to comment on the resignation.

Handel supported a decision Komen announced last week to exclude Planned Parenthood, which provides a range of women's health care services including abortions, from future grants for breast-cancer screenings because it was under congressional investigation.

The charity cited a probe backed by anti-abortion groups and launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., to determine if Planned Parenthood improperly spent public money on abortions. Planned Parenthood says taxpayer money is strictly separated.

The breast cancer charity reversed course after its decision created a three-day firestorm of criticism. Members of Congress and Komen affiliates accused the group's national leadership of bending to pressure from anti-abortion activists. Brinker denied the accusation.

Meanwhile, Bike New York announced it is now including Planned Parenthood of New York City as one of its official charities.

Bike New York and Planned Parenthood NYC made the announcement Monday.

Bike New York holds the TD Five Boro Bike Tour on the first Sunday in May. It's a 40-mile ride through the city. The organization partners with a number of charities, giving cyclists a chance to raise money as they ride.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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