Planned Parenthood president ousted after less than a year; pro-life advocates hail 'momentum'

Leana Wen, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, speaks during The Wall Street Journal's Future Of Everything Festival at Spring Studios on May 20, 2019, in New York City.
Leana Wen, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, speaks during The Wall Street Journal's Future Of Everything Festival at Spring Studios on May 20, 2019, in New York City. | Getty Images/Nicholas Hunt

The president of the largest abortion provider in the nation has been ousted from her role amid conflict over the direction of the organization and her messaging strategy.

Leana Wen, the first leader of Planned Parenthood to ever be a medical doctor, was terminated during a secret meeting of the group's board on Tuesday, reports say.

She has only held the job for eight months, following Cecile Richards who led the group from 2006 to 2018.

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In a tweet Tuesday, Wen noted that her termination was unbeknownst to her and that she was engaged in good faith negotiations with the Planned Parenthood board about her leaving the organization over "philosophical differences" about the group's future.

Wen followed up with a statement and a letter, noting that the priority of the board is to “double down on abortion advocacy” while her priority is to provide health care to underserved women.

"With the landscape changing dramatically in the last several months and the right to safe, legal abortion care under attack like never before, I understand the shift in the Board's prioritization," she said in her letter.

She noted that she is proud of her work and will always stand with the organization.

Wen's tenure at the helm of the abortion giant comes at a time when abortion has risen to the surface of American politics as conservative state legislatures pass heavy restrictions on the practice, such as heartbeat bills, and as liberal states adopt legislation permitting abortion until the moment of birth.

Much of Wen's messaging of the issue framed abortion in health care terms rather than political language, something that apparently led to her firing. Multiple reports indicate the board terminated her employment because she was not sufficiently aggressive given the particular political season, with abortion being restricted in states across the South and Midwest.

Citing two sources, Buzzfeed reported Tuesday that Wen refused to use "trans-inclusive" language such as saying "people" instead of "women." Wen also reportedly told staff that she thought that speaking about transgender issues would "isolate people in the Midwest." At many locations, the abortion giant dispenses cross-sex hormones for transgender and nonbinary-identified persons.

Pro-life leaders are noting the momentum they now have and are not surprised that Wen was ousted apparently because of her lack of aggressive political focus.

"Planned Parenthood has long claimed that healthcare encompasses the intentional killing of unwanted human persons, and Dr. Leana Wen — despite her brief eight month tenure — has consistently traded on her training as a physician to perpetuate Planned Parenthood's falsehood that 'abortion is healthcare,'" said Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United For Life, in a statement sent to The Christian Post.

"The pro-life movement is continuing to rack up legal victories at the state and federal levels, and we have every intention of building on those victories until we reach a post-Roe v. Wade era, and we will do that no matter who is leading America's deadliest non-profit."

Foster said of Wen: "If she has had a change of heart about the morality of killing thousands of babies each day, we will welcome her to our cause."

The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group that works to get pro-life women elected, said Tuesday that Planned Parenthood’s ejection of its new president after less than a year is not surprising in light of the visible "friction" they have observed in the past several months.

"Abortion is not health care 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,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement sent to CP.

“It is a sign that the abortion giant still overestimates its power in the new environment ushered in by the Trump administration — and that momentum is on the side of life. As our nation moves toward a legal consensus that is increasingly protective of unborn children at every stage, the abortion lobby insists that legislators have no right to intervene. The American people, through their elected representatives, are speaking clearly and deserve to be heard.”

The SBA-List also noted that Wen's ouster came one day after the Trump administration's abortion restriction, called the Protect Life Rule — which halts taxpayer-funded facilities from referring for abortions or commingling their funds with abortion businesses — formally went into effect.

In December, The New York Times published a critical article of the abortion giant, alleging that the outfit had discriminated against and was mistreating their pregnant employees.

In response to Wen's announcement that the Planned Parenthood board had ended her employment, Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, tweeted that dissent is not allowed and the abortion giant will only ever be about abortion.

Such disregard for everything else is "why hundreds of workers are leaving the abortion industry, & why millions more Americans are becoming pro-life," Rose said.

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