When the announcement was made that Dr. Leana Wen was ousted as the president of Planned Parenthood, it wasn’t much of a surprise. Articles had implied that trouble had been brewing for months over the future of the organization. While Dr. Wen wanted to focus a bit more on non-abortion related health care, Planned Parenthood’s leadership did not. As a result, Dr. Wen was let go from the organization in a rather hostile takeover.
Health care hasn’t been a focus of the organization for well over a decade, despite many claims in the media and from lobbyists to the contrary. Instead, there has been a significant and deliberate shift towards abortion politics and abortion itself, at the expense of people who need preventative health services. Dr. Wen was likely trying to change some of that and refocus the health care organization on the patients and not obsessing over abortion politics. Clearly, her efforts were not well received.
According to a statement by Dr. Wen, “As a physician and public health leader, I came to Planned Parenthood to lead a national health care organization that provides essential primary and preventive care to millions of underserved women and families and to advocate for a broad range of policies that affect our patients’ health. 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. I am leaving because the new Board Chairs and I have philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”
In my opinion, Planned Parenthood has just made a colossal mistake.
While I may disagree with Dr. Wen’s support of abortion, she was a good choice for the abortion business. As a physician, Dr. Wen could strongly advocate for Planned Parenthood’s case as a health care provider. She could speak with authority of a highly trained and accomplished physician and public health professional who is familiar with the health crises plaguing families and communities.
Removing Dr. Wen as the president proclaims to the world that Planned Parenthood does not care about health care, its patients or the communities where it works. Abortion is the only thing that the business cares about. To the public, that should now be abundantly clear, and that is a major misstep for Planned Parenthood.
The funding and good will of the public often comes from the perception that general health care services are a critical part of the business. As the banner of Dr. Wen’s Twitter page still says, “Planned Parenthood is health care.” The reality is something entirely different. Throughout the last 10-15 years, Planned Parenthood has seen a sharp decrease in the general and preventative health services offered. Since 2009, contraception services have decreased by 34.63%, cancer screenings by 68.84% and total services by 13.80%.
For an organization that claims that it is interested in cancer prevention, the statistic on cancer screenings is especially disturbing. Dr. Wen could’ve helped reverse this trend and give the abortion business the opportunity to reclaim some of its authority by moving the organization back into health care, which would have likely helped its cause, reputation and taxpayer funding. But in a moment of panic over the growing pro-life movement, the board of Planned Parenthood made the rash decision that secret meetings and the firing of its president were more important than treating patients.
This is a great day for the pro-life movement. No longer can Planned Parenthood hide behind its health care services. It’s official, the abortion business does not care about women it claims to serve or the patients that come through its doors, it cares about political power and abortion. That’s it.
Photo from Bret Simmons via Flickr