After less than a year on the job, Dr Leanna Wen M.D. has been removed from her position as Planned Parenthood’s president. Per the statement released by Dr. Wen, the ousting occurred after disagreements between Dr. Wen and Planned Parenthood’s board on the direction of the organization following the severe blows from the far right on reproductive rights, especially on the front of abortion access. Wen also stated that she was ousted after a secret meeting despite having been in good faith negotiations regarding her departure.
One of the main issues between the two parties was the framing of abortion as a healthcare issue rather than a political one. There were also reports of disagreements over Dr. Wen’s management style. Following her ousting, The New York Times reported that the organization wanted a more aggressive political leader, and as such, decided to appoint Alexis McGill Johnson as acting CEO and president of both Planned parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Dr. Leana Wen was the first Asian American as well as the first physician in 50 years to become the president of Planned Parenthood in 2018 after Cecile Richards announced her resignation. Previously, Wen was the Baltimore City Health Commissioner, leading the oldest health department in the United States and improving the city’s overall well-being. During her four years as the commissioner, Wen issued a blanket prescription for naloxone, which reverses opioid overdoses, to all residents of Baltimore, saving about 3,000 people in three years. In addition to combating the opioid epidemic, Wen also led initiatives to support transgender-related medical services; reduction of infant mortality; coverage for children who need glasses; medication and food access to seniors; expansion of trauma and mental health service; and programs to treat gun violence as a public health issue.
Media Resources: Democracy Now 07/16/19; Refinery 29 07/16/19; The New York Times 07/16/19; Feminist Newswire 03/12/19