Book Review: Planned Bullyhood

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Few of us will forget the flurry of tweets and Facebook posts over the course of a very few days last winter. In the run-up to the Super Bowl many of us were occupied, not with last minute news surrounding the biggest game of the year, but with the very public smack down of a once highly-regarded charity. Proving Planned Parenthood cares more about its agenda, its access to the corridors of power, and abortion than anything remotely resembling women’s “healthcare”, Cecile Richards and company went public, hard and fast, in an effort to bully Susan G Komen for the cure into continuing their few grants to the abortion mega-provider.

The grants were a tiny fraction of Planned Parenthood’s total budget, but the public relations point was enormous. Komen executives naively thought they had a gentle-ladies agreement with Cecile and friends to end their relationship quietly and amicably. Komen was acting responsibly in seeking to end their grants to Planned Parenthood. Aside from any political controversies they generated, the grants were poor quality “pass-through” grants. In other words, as we all know now, Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms. The grants from Komen were passed on locally. In seeking to use their money more effectively, Komen sought to cut out the middle man and grant directly to local agencies rather than passing the money through Planned Parenthood’s coffers.

Komen’s leadership was either working against itself -or- their were other fifth columnists within the organization. As Handel details, information that could only have come from within Komen seemed to reach Cecile Richards before it was fully distributed within Komen. On the other hand, Komen’s leadership seems inexcusably naive in making rookie mistakes such as bringing on Hilary Rosen as a PR consultant and fussing about a strangely timed “urgent” request to talk from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Karen Handel ably tells this story and more in her book, Planned Bullyhood. If you want the inside scoop plus some of Karen’s personal story, read the book. If you have followed the story at all, you will know that Karen fell on her sword — for the good of Komen as well as for the sake of her personal integrity. The book is well worth reading for understanding how Planned Parenthood works and takes advantage of the naivete of any person or organization who crosses them.

Pluses: information about the inner workings of Komen’s leadership and failures in understanding what they were up against.

Minuses: Handel still exhibits some of the same naiveté of the Komen leadership before the Planned Parenthood controversy. Defending herself as pro-life even though she makes exceptions for rape and incest, she does not seem to understand why pro-life organizations would not give her an unqualified endorsement when she has run for public office.

Recommendation: Buy it if you’re interested in the whole story. If you just want the highlights, read Austin Ruse instead: What Really Happened

A final note: Karen Handel wasn’t the only casualty of the debacle. As Austin Ruse notes, it took a little over a year, but the pro-Planned Parenthood forces inside Komen have succeeded in forcing out Susan G Komen’s sister, Nancy Brinker — the woman who founded the organization.