Planned Parenthood Ousts President After Less Than a Year

(Bloomberg) -- Planned Parenthood on Tuesday abruptly removed its president after less than a year as the group faces threats to its funding from President Donald Trump and abortion opponents in several state houses.

“I just learned that the @PPFA Board ended my employment at a secret meeting,” Leana Wen wrote on Twitter.

Wen, a physician and the former Baltimore health commissioner, was named president and chief executive officer of the organization just last September. In a statement released Wednesday, Planned Parenthood announced that Wen would be immediately replaced by Alexis McGill, a former member of the board.

McGill, in the statement, thanked “Dr. Wen for her service and commitment to patients.”

Wen’s removal comes as the organization faces renewed opposition on several fronts. In February, the Trump administration cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood and other health providers that offer abortion services. In April, the president signed a bill to give states permission to withhold federal family planning money from the group.

At the same time, a number of states have sharply restricted access to abortion.

The debate over the legality of the practice, perhaps the most bitter in American politics for a generation, has become a major issue in the 2020 presidential election. Democrats have vowed to protect and even expand a woman’s right to abortion, as well as restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Trump has made no secret of his wish to appoint enough Supreme Court justices to overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion, and has made his opposition to the practice a centerpiece of his re-election campaign.

Wen tweeted that negotiations for her departure had already begun because of “philosophical differences” with the board over the direction of the organization.

“I came to Planned Parenthood to run a national health care organization and to advocate for the broad range of public health policies that affect our patients’ health,” Wen wrote in a statement. “The new board leadership has determined that the priority of Planned Parenthood moving forward is to double down on abortion rights advocacy.”

In its statement, the organization said would begin a search for a new leader early next year with hopes of naming a new president by year’s end.

Planned Parenthood, which was co-founded in 1916 by the birth control advocate Margaret Sanger, offers a variety of preventive-health and family-planning services. The group has about 600 affiliated health-care centers used by more than 5 million people a year, according to its website.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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