Planned Parenthood recently announced the ousting of Dr. Leana Wen as their President after less than a year. The news was just as much a shock to Dr. Wen as it was to the public, it seemed.
According to all available reports as well as inside sources, it’s clear that there were many reasons why Dr. Wen was let go. Management issues, a lack of leadership, and a refusal to use trans-inclusive language have all been cited as reasons why Dr. Wen was asked to leave so quickly into her tenure (the last one is particularly disturbing).
But what it all comes down to is that Planned Parenthood and Dr. Wen have extremely different philosophies on abortion advocacy.
Planned Parenthood is currently in the fight for its life. It’s long struggled to maintain government funding and clinics have closed left and right.
But the last year has marked a new phase in the fight for abortion rights. States like Alabama and Missouri are passing such strict abortion laws that it nearly makes abortion illegal entirely. And more states are following their lead.
And with Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court, Trump has all the justices he needs to overturn Roe v. Wade. Our rights have never been more at risk.
But Dr. Wen doesn’t want to make abortion political. She said this quite literally in her statement after her termination went public and wrote,
“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 she stuck to that philosophy her entire term as President. When she first took up the position, she even launched a campaign called “This Is Healthcare.”
She’s right: abortion is healthcare. It’s an outpatient medical treatment like any other and should be treated as such.
In an ideal world, we could talk about abortion the same way we talk about pap smears or HIV/AIDS prevention. Abortion rightfully falls under the category of “sexual and reproductive health” and should be treated as such.
But this isn’t an ideal world. And the reality is that abortion is political. The GOP has made sure of that.
What we need, what Planned Parenthood needs, is a Commander-In-Chief ready to lead the fight. And that’s just not Dr. Wen.
Let’s put aside all the other rumors. Let’s put aside the reports about her management style, her struggle to fit into the company culture, and her refusal to replace the word “woman” with “person” (not ok!). Even if none of those things were true, Dr. Wen still wouldn’t have been the right fit for Planned Parenthood. She never would have been.
I would like to imagine a future where we could have someone like Dr. Wen at the helm of Planned Parenthood, a world where abortion advocacy would purely be about healthcare.
But if we ever want to see that happen, we need to fight the GOP tooth and nail. And that’s what we’ll do. As long as it takes, whatever it takes, we will never let somebody else (let alone a group of old white men) take away our right to choose what’s right for us and our bodies.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel and when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her obsessing over her tuxedo cat Tom or hoarding drugstore lipsticks.