NRL News

The ouster of PPFA’s Leana Wen and what it means going forward

by | Jul 22, 2019

By Dave Andrusko

In our world where we are consistently inundated with massive amounts of media messaging, the importance of the truly significant can easily be buried under the comparative superfluous in less than a week.

It’s hard to believe but it’s only been six days since the New York Times broke the news that Planned Parenthood had canned Dr. Leana Wen, its president of only eight months. We’ve already been through several news cycles, including Dr. Wen’s blistering, take-no- prisoners critique of PPFA in an op-ed that ran online in the New York Times last Friday.

Why are Planned Parenthood’s in-house battles important to pro-lifers? In a dozen different ways. I will mention six . By way of preface, this disaster (which is what it was for the nation’s “leading abortion provider”) took place against the backdrop of a number of developments that have put PPFA’s credibility on the line.

*It’s fascinating that in many ways, unidentified PPFA officialdom and Dr. Wen agree on why she was purged “following several weeks of tense and sometimes acrimonious negotiations” to convince her to quit which went nowhere. But since PPFA, a $1.8 billion “non-profit” specializes in playing the victim, they are intent on persuading the public through the media that the root cause is Wen’s supposed inadequacies and alleged shortcomings.

Like a squid spraying ink to mask its location, Planned Parenthood masked its own incompetence by blaming Wen for: an poor management style; bringing on top lieutenants from her old position as Baltimore City health commissioner; not being up to running an organization with more than 600 “health centers” and; not being sufficiently adroit, politically.

It’s all hooey to cover that the leadership (political to the last metatarsal in their feet) went bonkers when Dr. Wen actually tried to make Planned Parenthood what it pretends to be: a major provider of health care.

It is critical to remember that Wen did not retreat an inch on abortion. She hewed to the company line about poor, old do-gooder PPFA under “attack.” She even recycled PPFA’s bogus history of abortion prior to Roe.

But, as she also wrote in her Times op-ed, “I believe abortion is about health care, not politics. Many of my colleagues disagreed.”

*As Planned Parenthood’s political profile rose (and rose and rose) and its muscle grew, they counted on a compliant media to conveniently overlook that it was putting fewer and fewer resources into its non-abortion related health care. But pro-lifers just recited the facts and ignored the spin.

Critics such as National Right to Life have documented how Planned Parenthood’s professed commitment to health care is inconsistent with the stark decline in non-abortion services at Planned Parenthood. Cancer screening services at the group’s clinics dropped by nearly 70%, from 2,011,637 in 2005 to just 614,361 in 2017 (the last year for which PPFA has published statistics).

Even contraception, Planned Parenthood’s signature product, is down more than a third (34.3%) since 2006. The number of abortions, by contrast, is UP at Planned Parenthood by 25.4%, from 264,943 in 2005 to 332,757 in 2017. This, even while the overall number of abortions performed by non-PPFA “providers” in the U.S. have been dramatically falling.”

The chart follows below. More on prenatal care after chart.

Not in this chart are figures on prenatal care. They seem to vary more, but looking over the past decade or so, we see a high of 40,489 for 2009, with just 9,055 for 2017.

In her op-ed piece, Dr. Wen pulled back the curtain. Please read this carefully:

For me, as a physician, it was also simply good medical care to treat the whole patient. There were already some Planned Parenthood health centers that provided full-spectrum care. In one clinic I visited, a new mother could get a checkup while her baby was vaccinated. If she was diagnosed with postpartum depression, she could receive mental health services right there, too.

With high-quality affordable health care out of reach for so many, Planned Parenthood has a duty to maximize its reach. I began efforts to increase care for women before, during and after pregnancies, and to enhance critically needed services like mental health and addiction treatment.

But the team that I brought in, experts in public health and health policy, faced daily internal opposition from those who saw my goals as mission creep. There was even more criticism as we worked to change the perception that Planned Parenthood was just a progressive political entity and show that it was first and foremost a mainstream health care organization.

Dr. Wen (and PPFA’s own annual reports) confirm everything NRLC has been saying about PPFA for decades. PPFA is a political entity , through and through. Working hand-in-hand, with the Democrat Party, their first priority is to elect more pro-abortion politicians.

What Wen’s in-house critics would dismiss as “mission creep” would be offering the kinds of full-service medical services PPFA tells us they are best at providing.

*According to the Times’s Sarah Kliff and Shane Goldmacher,

“Many strategists who work with abortion rights activists believe Planned Parenthood was caught off guard and ill prepared to deal with the recent attacks from President Trump and Republicans, who spread misinformation about Democratic-led efforts in states like New York to expand abortion access later in pregnancy. Instead of aggressively refuting the claims that Democrats were legalizing “infanticide,” Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups were slow to form a cohesive and effective response. Planned Parenthood’s inner turmoil also distracted from those efforts at the time, people close to the organization said.”

Wow, where to start, beyond the obvious: Somebody had to take the fall for the impossible position Democrats had placed themselves in. Consider the Abortion Industry and its allies‘ dilemma.

Leading Congressional Democrats refuse to consider legislation to protect abortion survivors. No one is suggesting “futile care,” but merely providing them with the same care a premature baby of the same age would receive. No more, but no less.

In Virginia, a state Delegate agreed her bill would allow abortion through all 40 weeks of pregnancy and the governor said it was up the aborted mother and the abortionist to decide if any care is provided to any baby who survives any abortion.

Nobody was “caught off guard.” The only thing they could say was either no babies survive abortions (patently untrue) and/or that current laws protect them (which is either obviously untrue or likely untrue, thus the need for clarifying legislation).

*Planned Parenthood’s defense against any all charges is that they are “politically motivated,” or as is the case with the undercover videos taken by CMP (the Center for Medical Progress), that they were “heavily edited.” Anyone paying the least amount of attention these last six days now knows that PPFA’s cover story has been blown: they are political animals who devoured one of their own for not making abortion the absolute, all-consuming #1 priority, the be-all and end-all.

I thought of David Daleiden’s agenda-shifting videos when I read Dr. Wen’s Times’ counter to the slimy attack launched by her former bosses. Are her stark criticisms of PPFA also “selectively edited” or the unvarnished truth?

*Wen writes, “But in the end, I was asked to leave for the same reason I was hired: I was changing the direction of Planned Parenthood.” I don’t know what led her to believe that this change would include genuine health care. (Maybe because she was a physician?) PPFA’s slogan might as well be “Abortions R Us.” Finally

*A couple of weeks back I wrote about Dr. Wen’s recent miscarriage which she explained in a very moving op-ed for the Washington Post. If you had half a heart, you would weep for Dr. Wen and her husband.

But, as always with Planned Parenthood, everything is seen through the lens of politics. Kliff and Goldmacher tell us that both of Planned Parenthood’s boards had “asked her to resign.”

The request set off intense negotiations involving lawyers on both sides over the terms of her departure. Her exit was assured; the one question was whether it would be done peacefully and quietly, or loudly and acrimoniously.

But at about the same time, Dr. Wen was facing down a much more personal challenge: She had suffered a miscarriage. She wrote about the experience in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

“Just as suddenly as they’d come on, my nausea, exhaustion and other symptoms went away,” Dr. Wen wrote in a searing essay. “I knew even before I went to my doctor that I’d had a pregnancy loss.”

The op-ed — published on July 6, after she had been asked to resign — surprised and frustrated senior officials and board members, who had not been informed of the article in advance.

Understand that Wen framed the loss of her baby in terms even the PPFA types should have appreciated: “My miscarriage has made my commitment to women’s health even stronger.”

So why were they frustrated? I believe because they feared people would feel empathy and sympathy for a woman they were about to pitch overboard. Mom’s loses baby, Mom loses job.

Not good optics.

Planned Parenthood is going through a long overdue rough patch of water. What will they do next? Bring on someone who relishes political combat, who will continue to say abortion represents “just 3%” of PPFA’s services, and pour all her energies, not in caring for women and children, but in electing pro-abortion Democrats.

Categories: PPFA