Not even a year into her administration, Leana Wen was fired from her position as President of the world’s largest single provider of abortions in the US, Planned Parenthood. The meeting which resulted in this termination took place this week on Tuesday, July 16.
Although Planned Parenthood’s statement reads as if the discharge of their former President was not sudden, Wen seems to indicate the opposite. Her statement on Twitter says, “I believe that the best way to protect abortion care is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a health care one, and that we can expand support for reproductive rights by finding common ground with the large majority of Americans who understand reproductive health care as the fundamental health care that it is. I am leaving because the new Board Chairs and I have philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”
The reasons for her firing are disputed. Planned Parenthood says it was a consequence of “leadership and management” issues with which Wen continually struggled. They also stated certain facts which Wen would use while speaking in public, such as saying thousands of women have died from illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade, were quickly disproved. Yet, Wen did not stop using these false statements. It had to be awkward and unprofessional, to say the least, to have to continually readjust Planned Parenthood’s proverbial crown. More sources have said Planned Parenthood felt they needed someone more aggressive and with more political experience than Wen to face the seemingly upcoming war between people who are pro-life and people who are pro-choice.
Wen’s statement on her ousting is different; she says it happened during a secret meeting and on account of “philosophical differences.” More specifically, Planned Parenthood wanted to “double down” on abortions, while she did not. This sounds strikingly like what Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood community services director, has said on multiple occasions. Coincidence?
Another coincidence is that all this is happening during a tumultuous time for both pro-choice and pro-life individuals. Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced clinics are no longer allowed to refer women for abortions if not for medical necessity. There have also been more than 300 pieces of pro-life legislation passed in the States in the past year, more than in any other year before. There are rumors conservatives actually have a chance at overturning Roe v. Wade, and when things like Alabama making abortion illegal (except in the case of the woman’s health being at risk) happen, that rumor is probably urged farther up the political grapevine. There is no doubt states are passing restrictions on abortion access at an unprecedented rate.
How do you nicely fire the President of any organization..? “Um… your position is being… terminated? Please plan on freeing up your office space… as president?” Is this the semi-normal “recycling” of someone who was just “not working out” and happened to also be the president? Or might it be that Planned Parenthood is scrambling to regroup and form a counterattack against what many see as the chance at getting Roe v. Wade overturned? The co-founder of the Perception Institute, Alexis McGill Johnson, is taking over the presidency for now. Planned Parenthood has said they will begin looking for a new president at the beginning of 2020, and hope to have found someone to fill this role by the end of next year.
Many have reached out to Dr. Wen through social media, congratulating her on “escaping the devil’s lair,” including the above-mentioned Abby Johnson. I encourage all pro-life supporters to do the same, showing we are not as close-minded and heartless as we are sometimes portrayed to be. Let us keep Dr. Wen in our prayers and remain hopeful she will see the light and become an advocate for life.