Less than a year after hiring Leana Wen as president, Planned Parenthood fired the physician and former Baltimore health commissioner on Tuesday over a clash of goals for the nation’s largest abortion provider.
“I just learned that the [Planned Parenthood] Board ended my employment at a secret meeting,” Wen tweeted after the firing. “We were engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”
Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, told me it was telling that the firing came directly on the heels of the Trump administration’s announcement it would enforce new Title X rules that keep federal family planning funds from going to abortion centers.
“The crux of the issue is the fact that Planned Parenthood is watching their influence slip away,” Nance said. “And they’re getting kind of desperate. And what we see often in these kinds of situations as organizations implode is they blame each other. The issue is not Leana Wen. The issue is the mission of Planned Parenthood.”
Wen herself said that she was working to “depoliticize Planned Parenthood” and incorporate healthcare for women “before, during and after pregnancies,” but she faced heavy opposition from other members of leadership. “In the end, I was asked to leave for the same reason I was hired: I was changing the direction of Planned Parenthood,” she said.
Wen broke the pro-abortion mold last month when she wrote about the emotional pain of her miscarriage. While she said it furthered her commitment to promote access to abortion, she still drew attention to the love and hope she felt for her unborn child. She also said she was reaching across battle lines to pro-life advocates who supported Planned Parenthood’s nonabortion work and was working to promote an image of Planned Parenthood that was primarily one of healthcare—not just abortion.
Apparently it wasn’t an image Planned Parenthood wanted.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, likened Wen’s hire to an experiment gone wrong.
“Abortion is not healthcare, and dressing it up in a white coat has not fooled the American people, so they fall back on the mainstay of their political machine,” Dannenfelser said in a statement.
Wen said she would likely return to practicing medicine in Baltimore. In the meantime, Planned Parenthood announced that Alexis McGill Johnson will serve as acting president, whom the abortion giant called a “social justice advocate” with strong roots in political activism. In an open letter, McGill Johnson sounded a call to defend abortion access and to fight for LGBTQ causes.
Regardless of who leads Planned Parenthood, pro-life advocates still have the same job, Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said in a statement.
“The musical chairs at the top of the nation’s No. 1 abortion vendor will not change the pro-life commitment to confronting them in court, in the legislatures, and on the campaign trail,” Hawkins said. “Women don’t need what Planned Parenthood is selling. Pregnancy is not a disease cured by abortion, and with federally qualified health centers standing by to offer true, full-service healthcare, women have lots of options that don’t include abortion.”