Opinion | Leana Wen: Why I Left Planned Parenthood – By Leana S. Wen – The New York Times

By Leana S. Wen

Dr. Wen is an emergency physician.

“This week, I left my position as the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood.

In my farewell message to colleagues, I cited philosophical differences over the best way to protect reproductive health. While the traditional approach has been through prioritizing advocating for abortion rights, I have long believed that the most effective way to advance reproductive health is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a health care one. I believed we could expand support for Planned Parenthood — and ultimately for abortion access — by finding common ground with the large majority of Americans who can unite behind the goal of improving the health and well-being of women and children.

When the board hired me to chart this new course, I knew that it would be challenging. Few organizations, let alone organizations under constant siege, accept change easily. Indeed, there was immediate criticism that I did not prioritize abortion enough. While I am passionately committed to protecting abortion access, I do not view it as a stand-alone issue. As one of the few national health care organizations with a presence in all 50 states, Planned Parenthood’s mandate should be to promote reproductive health care as part of a wide range of policies that affect women’s health and public health.

Another area of contention was my attempt to depoliticize Planned Parenthood. The organization and the causes it stands for have long been in the cross hairs of political attacks. In the last few months, seven states have passed laws banning abortion before many women even know that they are pregnant. Just this past Monday, the Trump administration announced that it would start enforcing a gag rule that would prohibit doctors and nurses working in federally funded clinics from referring patients to abortion care.

I had been leading our organization’s fights against these attacks, and believe they offer even more reason for Planned Parenthood to emphasize its role in providing essential health care to millions of underserved women and families. People depend on Planned Parenthood for breast exams, cervical cancer screenings, H.I.V. testing and family planning. To counter those who associate the organization with only abortion and use this misconception to attack its mission, I wanted to tell the story of all of its services — and in so doing, to normalize abortion care as the health care it is.”

David Lindsay:  This story makes me sad. I have been a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood since young adulthood, but I am at a loss. I thought Leana Wen had good ideas for making this organization more palatable to some of its enemies. I also fear that a softer, more sophisticated PP would be more helpful in defeating Donald Trump. Tightening up and becoming more narrow and strident, will problably help him by keeping his pro-life supporters galvanized.

Here is a comment I liked:

Billdoc2
Newton, MA
Times Pick

Wen is correct and those within PP who opposed her will regret her loss. As an older physician who went through medical training at a time when abortion was illegal and I watched over the deaths of many young women who died from botched attempted abortions, I know how important Roe is. As a long time observer of the political realities, I know that a different approach by PP made excellent sense. I have been a dedicated financial supporter of PP. My enthusiasm for continuing in that role has been severely diminished. I suspect I am not alone in those feelings.

9 Replies351 Recommended

The State Assault on Planned Parenthood – The New York Times

“Last summer, after deceptively edited videos were used to accuse Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue, congressional Republicans voted to block all federal financing for the organization, and threatened to shut down the entire federal government if they didn’t get their way.

The charges against Planned Parenthood were completely bogus — investigations in 12 states found no wrongdoing, and one, in Texas, resulted in the indictment in January of the video makers.

By then, however, the damage was done. Even before the push in Congress failed, state governments had begun to cut funds for Planned Parenthood, without much national attention.Since last July, 23 states have tried various ways of cutting money for the organization. So far 11 have succeeded, most recently Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed HB 1411, a sweeping anti-abortion bill that, among many destructive provisions, prohibits Medicaid and other public funds from being used to reimburse organizations that work with abortion providers.”

Source: The State Assault on Planned Parenthood – The New York Times

Vindication for Planned Parenthood – The New York Times

“One after the other, investigations of Planned Parenthood prompted by hidden-camera videos released last summer have found no evidence of wrongdoing. On Monday, a grand jury in Harris County, Tex., went a step further. Though it was convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, it indicted two members of the group that made the videos instead.The Harris County prosecutor, Devon Anderson, a Republican who was asked by the lieutenant governor, a strident opponent of Planned Parenthood, to open the criminal investigation, said on Monday that the grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any misconduct.Yet despite all the evidence, Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, said on Monday that the state attorney general’s office and the State Health and Human Services Commission would continue investigating Planned Parenthood. This is a purely political campaign of intimidation and persecution meant to destroy an organization whose mission to serve women’s health care needs the governor abhors.”

Source: Vindication for Planned Parenthood – The New York Times

Indictment Deals Blow to G.O.P. Over Planned Parenthood Battle – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — A grand jury’s indictment on Monday of two abortion opponents who covertly recorded Planned Parenthood officials is the latest, most startling sign that a Republican campaign against the group has run into trouble.In a dozen states including Texas, where the grand jury in Houston examined Planned Parenthood at the request of Republican officials but ended up indicting the opponents, various investigations have concluded without finding any wrongdoing by affiliates of the group. Eight states have declined to investigate since videos began surfacing in June alleging that Planned Parenthood illegally sells tissue from aborted fetuses.”

Source: Indictment Deals Blow to G.O.P. Over Planned Parenthood Battle – The New York Times

Louisiana Lays Bare Difficulty in Push to Cut Planned Parenthood Funding – The New York Times

“NEW ORLEANS — Dr. Stephanie Taylor recently showed off the private community health center here, newly built on the site of a women’s clinic wrecked by Hurricane Katrina a decade ago, pointing out the colorful furnishings, germ-resistant flooring and, in the sunny lobby, a welcoming Tree of Life mural. So it was a tad incongruous when she added, “We’re at ground zero for sexually transmitted infections.”Dr. Taylor’s point was twofold: Demand for tests and treatment is great, not just in this neighborhood beyond the French Quarter, but all over Louisiana. And clinics like this CrescentCare Health and Wellness Center need all the allies they can get — including the state’s two Planned Parenthood clinics, one here and one in Baton Rouge, which are now threatened with losing their public funds by Republicans in the state capital and in Congress.“We have a syphilis epidemic right now in New Orleans,” said Dr. Taylor, the medical director overseeing programs to combat sexually transmitted infections for the State Office of Public Health. She is also the director of Louisiana State University’s sexually transmitted infections program that operates in the wellness center here. Louisiana ranks first among the states in cases of gonorrhea, second in chlamydia, and third in syphilis and in H.I.V., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The political dispute embroiling Planned Parenthood here and nationwide is over abortion, though public funds are not permitted by federal law to be used for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or when a pregnancy threatens the mother’s life. Neither clinic in this state — like nearly half of all Planned Parenthood centers — performs them. What the Louisiana Planned Parenthood clinics did do last year was administer nearly 20,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections, as well as providing gynecological exams, contraceptive care, cancer screenings and other wellness services for nearly 10,000 mostly low-income patients.”

Source: Louisiana Lays Bare Difficulty in Push to Cut Planned Parenthood Funding – The New York Times