Planned Parenthood ousts Leana Wen and proves that abortion, not healthcare, is its priority
One of the symptoms of uneasiness is the inability to stay still. Leana Wen knows this. She’s a doctor. And she was the president of Planned Parenthood until today, when the abortion organization’s board met in secret and pushed her out, after less than nine months on the job, because of “philosophical” differences. They’re uneasy. They can’t stay still.
And no wonder: Planned Parenthood is facing more opposition than ever. The Republican in the White House has filled the lower federal courts and two Supreme Court vacancies with conservative justices, potentially (underline that word) endangering Roe v. Wade, the foundational decision upon which Planned Parenthood depends.
The states have also worked up the courage to take on Planned Parenthood. This year alone, nine states passed pro-life laws limiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected in the womb. In Alabama, legislators banned abortion entirely. None of these laws are currently being enforced, and they’ll undoubtedly be litigated in the courts. But the message is clear: Planned Parenthood doesn’t have the power. We the people do.
Perhaps that’s what frightens Planned Parenthood the most. The culture is changing. A recent poll found that although the majority of Americans are against overturning Roe, more than 61% support restrictions that would probably require its being overturned. Only 18% said abortion should be available to a woman at any point during her pregnancy, a very low number that is consistent with past polls.
Planned Parenthood can’t hide behind its healthcare mask anymore. Last year, a poll found that 48% of voters supported legislation to withhold taxpayer funds from Planned Parenthood as long as it continues to provide abortions. Only 40% disapproved.
Leana Wen tried to rehabilitate Planned Parenthood’s image by making healthcare its priority. “People aren’t coming to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement,” she told Buzzfeed News last year. “They’re coming because they need their vaccinations. They need their well woman exams. They’re getting HIV tests.”
When Wen was first hired, some pro-choice advocates celebrated her new focus. Others, however, saw it as a shift away from the real fight, or the only fight that matters: the war for abortion.
“It’s a symbol of fatigue, the battle has been a tough one and they’re tired,” Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic campaign consultant, told BuzzFeed News. “If you publicly project that you’re no longer an advocate but a provider of medical services, the presumption is the bad guys will no longer beat you up because you’re no longer poking a stick in their eyes all the time.”
Planned Parenthood must have agreed, because they ousted Wen in a “secret meeting.” Of course they did. And in doing so, Planned Parenthood proved pro-lifers right: The company’s priority has always been abortion, not healthcare. They want swift and firm action to protect abortion — not mammograms (which they don’t do), not vaccinations, not well woman exams.
Leana Wen was always fighting a losing battle. Or perhaps she wasn’t doing enough. But when it comes to Planned Parenthood, nothing is ever enough.