WASHINGTON — Dr. Leana Wen, a former Baltimore commissioner of health, is the new president of Planned Parenthood. The abortion provider announced Wen’s appointment Sept. 12. She replaces Cecile Richards, who was appointed to the role in 2006.
In a three-minute video posted by Planned Parenthood announcing her hiring, Wen described her immigrant background — she moved to the United States from China at the age of 8 — and her past work as an emergency-room doctor and as the health commissioner of Baltimore.
“Reproductive health care is health care. Women’s health care is health care, and health care has to be understood as a fundamental human right,” said Wen in the video.
“Having a physician as the head of Planned Parenthood: It is a sign that what we are doing is mainstream medical care.”
While Wen stressed her enthusiasm for the role, former Planned Parenthood clinic director-turned-pro-life activist Abby Johnson told CNA that she hopes to one day welcome Wen into her ministry for former abortion-industry workers.
“Doctors take an oath to first ‘do no harm,’ and when it comes to pregnant women, there are two patients. Doctors understand this, even those who do abortions,” said Johnson.
“We have had seven abortionists come through our ministry at And Then There Were None; they left their jobs and realized they could authentically practice that oath elsewhere. It’s my hope that Dr. Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood’s new president, comes to realize the atrocity of abortion for both mom and baby. We are here when she decides to quit and to use her talents to first do no harm.”
Wen is the first physician to lead Planned Parenthood in five decades. In a statement on Twitter, she said her new position was “an incredible honor and privilege” and that she was “proud to stand alongside millions of (the organization’s) supporters as we embark on this next chapter together.”
Americans United for Life President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster said in a statement that she believes that Wen “puts politics ahead of women’s health” and that she has an “abysmal and tragic record” combating sexually transmitted diseases from her time in Baltimore.
During Wen’s time as a city commissioner for health, Maryland had some of the highest diagnosis rates in the country for diseases such as syphilis and HIV/AIDS, said Foster.
“Without irony, Wen further hails the ‘lifesaving work’ of the nation’s largest abortion network, even though Baltimore’s African-American community has been decimated by abortion.”
While in her post in Baltimore, Wen sued the Trump administration over funding cuts to a grant for teen-pregnancy prevention programs. The funding was eventually restored.
Foster was also critical of Wen’s attack on conscience rights, saying, “[Wen] refers to the principled decisions of doctors and nurses to refrain from the destruction of innocent human lives as ‘refusals’ and teamed up with NARAL in the attempt to force pro-life pregnancy centers to refer for abortions.”
Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the United States. In 2016, the organization performed about one out of every three abortions, the largest single share by far.
While Wen emphasized the “basic health care” offered by Planned Parenthood, the past decade has seen its number of patients decline by about 700,000, while the number of cancer screenings, contraceptives distributed and prenatal services provided by the organization decreased, as well.
Abortions, however, have increased by about 10% since 2006, despite Planned Parenthood seeing fewer patients.
The amount of federal funding received by Planned Parenthood increased by 61% over the past decade. In 2016, Planned Parenthood received over half a billion dollars in federal funds.