Planned Parenthood Terminates Presidency After Eight Months

Leana Wen not 'political' enough for the organization (updated)

Leana Wen and Sen. Richard Blumenthal in Washington, DC / Getty Images
July 16, 2019

Planned Parenthood announced on Tuesday that it has removed Leana Wen as president, after less than a year in the job.

Minutes after the news broke, Wen provided a statement on Twitter stating the board expected her to be more "political."

"As a physician and a public health leader, I came to Planned Parenthood to lead a national health care organization," she said to open her statement.

"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."

Wen took the reins of Planned Parenthood on Nov. 12, making her tenure just over eight months long. She made it clear in her statement she was leaving "because the new Board Chairs and I have philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood."

She announced her departure in a tweet minutes before, stating that the pro-abortion organization fired her without her knowledge.

"I just learned that the @PPFA Board ended my employment at a secret meeting," she wrote. "We were engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood. My statement to come shortly."

Wen's tenure was marked by a period of turbulence for the pro-choice movement, coinciding with a series of pro-life gains, including legislation that would increase restrictions on abortion in Ohio, Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana and Missouri.

Wen replaced former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards in a shakeup that followed key pro-life gains, including the nomination process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Wen oversaw an attempt to rebrand the organization as women's health provider rather than solely an abortion provider.

Wen will be replaced by Alexis McGill Johnson, who serves on Planned Parenthood's board, according to the New York Times.

Later Tuesday, Wen published a longer statement on Twitter, calling her colleagues her "heroes." But she added that the Planned Parenthood board differed from her on whether the main point of Planned Parenthood was healthcare or abortion advocacy.

"The new Board leadership has determined that the priority of Planned Parenthood moving forward will be to double down on abortion advocacy," she said.

Updated 5:20 p.m.: This post was updated after Wen tweeted a longer statement.