A senior executive with pro-life views has stepped down in the wake of a funding frenzy with Planned Parenthood, a key US breast cancer foundation said on Tuesday.
In a statement, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure said it had accepted the resignation of Karen Handel, its senior vice president for policy since April 2011 and a one-time Republican candidate for governor of Georgia.
"I have known Karen for many years, and we both share a common commitment to our organization's lifelong mission, which must always remain our sole focus," Komen founder Nancy Brinker said. "I wish her the best in future endeavors."
Last Friday, Komen reversed its decision to stop funding breast screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics after an outcry over the move triggered a political and fund-raising backlash by women's health advocates.
Handel, 49, was widely believed to have been a key player in Komen's decision to end its long-standing ties with Planned Parenthood, given her opposition to abortion.
But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper reported Tuesday that in her letter of resignation, Handel said the decision to cut funding was not based "on anyone's political beliefs or ideology."
The very public row drove in nearly $3 million in donations for Planned Parenthood in a matter of days, before Komen backed down and apologized, pledging to continue its funding.
Planned Parenthood is the biggest single abortion provider in the United States, while Komen has been a leader in the fight against breast cancer with its high-profile "pink ribbon" campaigns.