Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen departs after “philosophical differences”
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAct) announced its decision to remove its president, Dr. Leana Wen, in a statement on Tuesday.
After just eight months in the position, Wen said in a tweet that she learned that the Planned Parenthood board ended her employment at a secret meeting, and that she and the board were “engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”
When she seceded Cecile Richards in November 2018, When became the first doctor to hold the position in the last 5 decades. In her place, the board unanimously appointed Alexis McGill Johnson, co-founder of the Perception Institute, as acting president and CEO of PPFA and president of PPAct until the board begins their search for a permanent new president early next year.
“I am leaving the organization sooner than I’d hoped because the new Board Chairs and I have philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood,” Wen said in a statement released on Twitter. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve alongside out dedicated doctors, nurses, clinicians, staff, and volunteers who are on the frontlines of health care in our country.”
In her statement, Wen said her emphasis as president was largely on Planned Parenthood’s role as a provider of healthcare services like cancer screening and while the board wanted the organization to focus more on political advocacy.
For her part, despite being less focused on political advocacy during her time at Planned Parenthood, as Baltimore City’s health commissioner, Wen successfully sued the Trump administration for cutting funding from teen pregnancy prevention education. In 2014, Wen came under fire for launching a website called “Who’s My Doctor,” aimed at revealing doctors’ political affiliation, their views on abortion and whether they are receiving funding from pharmaceutical companies, despite not revealing any of that information herself.
Johnson thanked Wen for her service in a tweet, saying, “Having been part of the Planned Parenthood family for nearly a decade, and having spent my career working in movements for social justice, I can’t think of a greater honor or more weighty responsibility than leading an organization like Planned Parenthood in this moment.”
This change in leadership comes at a time when the landscape of abortion politics shifts significantly. The Trump administration has recently moved to withhold federal family planning funds from clinics, including Planned Parenthood clinics, that refer women for abortions.
Meanwhile, New York City Council approved $250,000 to the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF), a volunteer program that assists abortion access to women in low-income areas. Vermont and Illinois have also recently signed legislation that protects abortion rights within their states.