Planned Parenthood President: Our 'Core Mission' Includes 'Providing, Protecting and Expanding Access to Abortion'

The organization has previously downplayed its focus on abortion, saying it’s 3 percent of services provided

Dr. Leana Wen / Twitter
January 8, 2019

Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen hit back at BuzzFeed for an article titled "Planned Parenthood’s New President Wants To Focus On Nonabortion Health Care," saying abortion is actually a central focus.

She took issue with the framing of BuzzFeed’s article on Twitter, since it sought to downplay Planned Parenthood’s focus on abortion. After describing the setting of Wen's Planned Parenthood office, which includes a picture of Christine Blasey Ford testifying against Brett Kavanaugh, the article said the organization's president is deemphasizing politics in the organization.

"Wen, 35, is only about two months into her tenure as the new head of Planned Parenthood, but she hit the ground running with this new campaign that sent the clear message: Planned Parenthood is first and foremost a health care organization, not a political symbol," the article reads.

Wen said on Twitter that political advocacy is critical to the organization.

"Our advocacy work is crucial to delivering on our mission. The 2018 midterms, including the record number of women and the historic pro-reproductive health majority elected to House, prove that Planned Parenthood continues to be a powerful political force across the country," Wen said.

She also said fighting for abortion rights, both as a provider and an advocate, is part of Planned Parenthood's "core mission."

"First, our core mission is providing, protecting and expanding access to abortion and reproductive health care. We will never back down from that fight - it’s a fundamental human right and women’s lives are at stake," Wen said.

This seems to contradict a long-repeated talking point from the organization and its defenders, who have claimed abortion is only 3 percent of what it does. That statistic has drawn the ire of many critics, both right and left, who say it’s misleading. The organization has stuck by the "3 percent" figure in its own annual reports, but Wen did not bring it up in her criticism of BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed’s article does not come across as critical of the organization at all, correctly pointing out that Wen, a physician, has emphasized its focus on health care, including a change of their motto to "This Is Health Care." The article’s framing came from some of the quotes Wen gave.

"People aren’t coming to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement," Wen told BuzzFeed. "They’re coming because they need their vaccinations. They need their well woman exams. They’re getting HIV tests."

Even with the framing BuzzFeed chose, however, Wen’s commitment to political action is evident. One passage described how her lawsuits against the Trump administration prove she is on a "warpath."

Wen is not a wholly apolitical choice, however. All Planned Parenthood press releases about her appointment made sure to emphasize that she successfully sued the Trump administration for cutting funds from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, and that she has fought changes the Trump administration attempted to make to federal family planning funding. In the limited interviews she has given thus far, including with BuzzFeed News, she has made it clear she is ready to continue down that warpath.