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In January, the news leaked that Komen would defund Planned Parenthood. Three days later Komen reversed, with apologies. Ms. Handel’s description of what occurred in those three days is worth the price of admission. Threats came from affiliates, from corporate donors, from Congress. Planned Parenthood’s friends in the media all piled on. The American Association of University Women even barred their students from taking positions with Komen. It took only 72 hours before Komen got the message and Planned Parenthood got the cash.

Karen Handel became the face of the enemy. She was, after all, a right-wing Republican, at war with women.

It was a masterful professional take-down of a venerable and beneficent charity. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal likened it to a protection racket: “Nice charity you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it.”

Planned Parenthood’s take was just $680,000; not a consequential amount for an organization with a budget of a billion dollars. It was not about the money.

Those Komen dollars delivered something more important than money. They delivered cover. If Planned Parenthood is to be seen as a genuine health care provider, if it is to continue pocketing $1.5 million a day in tax dollars, it cannot be seen as America’s abortion giant. For that, Komen was essential. Planned Parenthood shamelessly, and quite literally, cloaked itself in Komen pink. If Komen went, so went part of the veil.

But in keeping Komen, in the way it kept Komen, Planned Parenthood revealed something else: an ugly ruthlessness Americans will not soon forget.

Cathy Ruse is senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council and was formerly a spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.