‘Philosophical differences’: PPFA removes leader

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WASHINGTON (BP) – Planned Parenthood removed its president Tuesday (July 16) in part because of “philosophical differences,” a day after the Trump administration acted to begin cutting about 10 percent of the abortion giant’s government funding.

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The boards of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, PPFA’s advocacy arm, announced the departure of Leana Wen as president of both organizations only 10 months after she was named to the positions.

On Twitter, Wen said July 16 she had just learned the PPFA board “ended my employment at a secret meeting.” She also tweeted, “We were engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”

The differences reportedly were over Wen’s view abortion is a health-care issue. Planned Parenthood’s boards wanted a more political approach at a time when several states have enacted early bans on abortion, according to The New York Times.

Only the day before, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would immediately start enforcing a new regulation – labeled the Protect Life Rule – that would eliminate a reported $50 to $60 million in federal family planning funds for Planned Parenthood. PPFA and its affiliates collected $563.8 million in government grants and reimbursements and performed more than 332,757 abortions in the most recent year for which statistics are available.

Planned Parenthood confirmed July 15 it would not participate in the Title X program under the new regulation, according to news reports.

Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, said in a written statement, “Planned Parenthood has long claimed that healthcare encompasses the intentional killing of unwanted human persons, and [Wen] has consistently traded on her training as a physician to perpetuate Planned Parenthood’s falsehood that ‘abortion is healthcare.'”

Foster added, “If she has had a change of heart about the morality of killing thousands of babies each day, we will welcome her to our cause.”

The Planned Parenthood boards’ removal of Wen came only 10 days after she wrote for The Washington Post about her miscarriage in June. She did not indicate any change of heart on abortion when she said the experience has made her “commitment to women’s health even stronger.”

Abby Johnson – a former Planned Parenthood clinic director and now head of the pro-life organization And Then There Were None – encouraged pro-lifers via Twitter “to reach out to [Wen] in love. Let us also remember that she is a woman grieving the loss of a miscarried child. Let us treat her with care, not callousness.”

And Then There Were None helps clinic workers leave the abortion industry.

HHS announced immediate enforcement of the Protect Life Rule after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled July 11 the administration could enforce a regulation that eliminates Title X family planning funds for organizations that perform, promote, or refer for abortions while the rule faces a legal challenge. The rule, issued in February but blocked by lower courts, requires “clear financial and physical separation” between Title X programs and non-Title X programs in which abortion is promoted as a method of family planning.

This year in the states, Alabama has enacted a ban on abortion throughout pregnancy except in the case of “a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” while Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio have passed prohibitions on abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six to eight weeks. Missouri has approved a prohibition on abortion after eight weeks of gestation, and Arkansas and Utah have enacted abortion bans after 18 weeks.

Several PPFA senior officials – including Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens – had left the organization during Wen’s tenure, The Times reported.

Alexis McGill Johnson, former chair of the PPFA board, was named acting president of both Planned Parenthood organizations. Planned Parenthood said a search for a new president would not begin until early in 2020.

Various scandals have plagued Planned Parenthood the last two decades. Most recently, undercover videos were released beginning in 2015 that appeared to provide evidence the organization was trading in body parts from aborted babies.

Messengers to the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention meeting adopted a resolution calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood at all levels of government and denouncing the organization’s “immoral agenda and practices.”


Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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