The recently ousted former president of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Leana Wen, is mired in a dispute with her former employer that she's accusing of attempting to silence her.
In a private letter Wen sent to Planned Parenthood board members that was subsequently leaked to The New York Times, she took issue with her severance package, arguing that it required her to sign away her ability to speak truthfully.
Wen was ousted in July over philosophical differences about the direction of the nation's largest abortion business.
In the 1,400-word letter, Wen said Planned Parenthood was withholding health insurance and her severance as “ransom” in exchange for a restrictive confidentiality agreement.
“No amount of money can ever buy my integrity and my commitment to the patients I serve,” Wen said.
In much of her messaging during her eight-month tenure at the helm, Wen, a former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, Maryland, sought to present Planned Parenthood as a healthcare provider, and frequently referred to abortion as being an essential part of "women's healthcare."
Wen is now saying that the organization operates with a "stridently political, abortion-first philosophy,” that diminished her broader emphasis on healthcare for women.
"It is deeply hypocritical [that Planned Parenthood] would attempt to enforce a gag order on its immediate past President/CEO while fighting the Trump administration’s gag rule on Title X providers,” Wen asserted.
The gag rule she cited was the departure Planned Parenthood made from the federal Title X family planning program. The Trump administration finalized regulations earlier this year stipulating that grantees receiving government funds do not perform or refer for abortions, thus precipitating Planned Parenthood's exit.
Disappointed that her personal correspondence was leaked to the press, Wen told the Baltimore Sun on Sunday that she was dismayed the matter had become public.
"This is a confidential dispute with my former employer over honoring the terms of my employment contract,” she said. “They want to silence my voice as a public health expert. I simply will not sign away my right to speak my mind. I won’t compromise my integrity.”
Wen is now teaching public health at George Washington University and noted that the confidentiality agreement in question yields unworkable conditions.
"I'm a doctor. I have to be able to speak to my patients about reproductive healthcare. I’m a professor. I have to be able to speak to my students about reproductive healthcare,” Wen said.
In a statement posted to her Twitter page on Saturday, Wen stressed she would never agree to end her employment contract with severance terms that included a gag clause, accusing the board of refusing to fulfill their obligations.
Planned Parenthood maintains Wen's firing was over disagreement regarding her management style.
The organization is reportedly hoping to come to a final agreement with "language to reasonably meet [Wen’s] concerns about the scope of the confidentiality clause and her ability to speak publicly about issues of importance to her,” according to Melanie Newman, Planned Parenthood’s senior vice president for communications and culture.
Newman said Wen’s claims are “unfortunate, saddening, and simply untrue."
In the past year, Planned Parenthood has increased the number of locations where they offer cross-sex hormones for transgender-identifying patients.
Some reports emerged after Wen was ousted indicating that part of the reason Planned Parenthood fired her was because she opposed using terms associated with transgenderism, such as saying "pregnant people" instead of the sex-specific word, "women."