Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen Removed After 'Secret' Board Meeting
Dr. Leana Wen has officially been removed from Planned Parenthood following an alleged “secret meeting”.
Less than one year after appointing her as president, the organization announced on Tuesday that they would be ending Wen’s time in the leadership position.
“Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund announce Dr. Leana Wen’s departure from the organization,” the group wrote in a statement. “We thank Dr. Wen for her service and wish her the best in her next venture.”
In her place as Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood said Alexis McGill would be taking over, effective immediately.
“Alexis is a renowned social justice leader and tireless advocate for reproductive rights and access to quality, affordable health care,” the organization added in a separate tweet.
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Wen, who was appointed president in November 2018 and became the first physician to lead the nonprofit group, offered her side of the story on Twitter, claiming that her termination came after a “secret” Board meeting was held.
“I just learned that the @PPFA Board ended my employment at a secret meeting,” she tweeted on Tuesday. “We were engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”
Wen, 36, then elaborated on her thoughts in a lengthier statement, which was also shared to Twitter, implying that the disagreement came over their approach to defending abortion care.
“As a physician and public health leader, I came to Planned Parenthood to lead a national health care organization that provides essential primary and preventative care to millions of underserved women and families, and to advocate for a broad range of policies that affect our patients’ health,” she said.
“I believe that the best way to protect abortion care is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a health care one, and that we can expand support for reproductive rights by finding common ground with the large majority of Americans who understand reproductive health care as the fundamental health care that it is,” she added.
“I am leaving because the new Board Chairs and I have philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood,” Wen continued. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve alongside our dedicated doctors, nurses, clinicians, staff, and volunteers who are on the frontlines of health care in our country. I will always stand with Planned Parenthood, as I continue my life’s work and mission for caring for and fighting for women, families, and communities.”
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She also shared the memo that was addressed to her colleagues, where she echoed her earlier sentiments and revealed that she was “leaving the organization sooner than I’d hoped,” in part due to the Board’s new focus on abortion.
“The new Board leadership has determined that the priority of Planned Parenthood moving forward is to double down on abortion rights advocacy,” Wen explained. “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.”
“As a former patient, I will always be grateful to Planned Parenthood for the exceptional health care and education it provided me at a time in my life when I couldn’t get care anywhere else,” she added. “As a physician, I will always be proud to have represented an organization that has taken care of one in three women in America — along with men, LGBTQ people, and people across this country in need of care.” A rep for Planned Parenthood did not immediately reply to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
A month after being appointed president, Wen spoke to PEOPLE about the challenges Planned Parenthood was facing from politically driven attempts trying to take away access to health care services.
“We feel repeated attacks from the Trump administration against reproductive health and women’s health almost on a daily basis,” Wen shared in December 2018. “We are very concerned about the Trump administration’s efforts to attack science, to attack medicine, to attack the fundamental right to health care.”
“I mean, it’s 2018, and we’re still arguing over whether women should have access to birth control,” the emergency room physician noted. “There are multiple other efforts — I could go on and on. We at Planned Parenthood won’t stand for that.”
Like what she mentioned in her letter to her colleagues, Wen said the vast resources available at Planned Parenthood were something that she was aware of long before leading the non-profit.
“When we first immigrated to this country, Planned Parenthood was where my mother came for health care when she couldn’t get it anywhere else,” she explained. “I was a patient of Planned Parenthood. I went for education and information about birth control, because I knew that I could get judgement-free education and options, and when I didn’t have health insurance, when my sister didn’t have health insurance, we went to Planned Parenthood for our care just like one in five women in America.”
At the time, Wen also vowed to fight for the people who, like her family years ago, rely on Planned Parenthood for “lifesaving” medical care.
“Around the country there are so many attacks that prevent people from seeking care at Planned Parenthood when, for so many patients, it’s their only source of health care,” she said. “Because of our supporters, and the will of the American people, our doors are open today, and they’ll be open tomorrow, and they’ll be open for the next 100 years.”
“Reproductive health care is health care,” Wen continued. “Women’s health care is health care. And health care is a basic human right.”
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