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Planned Parenthood: Healthcare Provider or Political Machine?

Posted by Heather Creekmore on Oct 24, 2019, 5:00:00 AM

When Planned Parenthood fired president Dr. Leana Wen last summer, they revealed the truth. Planned Parenthood’s purpose is not to improve women’s health, but to promote abortion.

Dr. Wen isn’t just a physician. She’s an author and the former Health Commissioner for the city of Baltimore. She graduated summa cum laude from college at 18 years old and then, at the age most students start college, she went on to pursue a medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine and master’s degrees from Oxford University. She was an emergency medicine resident at Harvard, and then joined the faculty at the Harvard Medical School.

Young, accomplished, and fiercely devoted to patient empowerment and women’s health, Leana Wen is not only qualified but, at least it seems, is the ideal president of a women’s health organization. Only trouble is, that’s not what Planned Parenthood is about.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, Planned Parenthood staffers considered Wen to be politically naïve. She desired to “de-politicize” Planned Parenthood in order to emphasize women’s health. Planned Parenthood, according to Wen, wanted to, “double down on abortion rights.”

For the past few months, Wen and Planned Parenthood have been in a standoff over her severance. Initially Wen refused to sign a permanent gag order. A few weeks ago the two parties came to a settlement. It’s unclear as to whether or not Wen had to sign any non-disclosure agreements. Initially, Wen shared that it compromised her integrity to have her voice as a public health official silenced by non-disclosure statements that were more restrictive than those she signed at hiring.

Throughout her short tenure at the helm of Planned Parenthood, Wen spoke on record about changing the focus of the organization. She told Rolling Stone magazine, “We should not be singling out and stigmatizing one aspect of health care… I know, as a physician, that reproductive health care is health care, that women’s health care is health care, that abortion is part of the full spectrum of reproductive health care and needs to be treated as the standard medical care that it is.”

But Planned Parenthood can’t afford to care about women’s health. In fact, Rolling Stone, seemingly taking sides with Planned Parenthood, phrased it like this: “If Planned Parenthood ceased to be political — to fundraise, to organize, to elect pro-choice lawmakers — it would cease to exist.”

In an op-ed for the New York Times,  Leana Wen explained the following: “. . .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.”

Planned Parenthood quickly replaced Wen with “renowned social justice leader and lifelong political organizer” Alexis McGill Johnson who had been a part of Planned Parenthood’s board, including a stint as board chairman, for almost a decade. Johnson has no background in medicine, but holds both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in political science.

If Planned Parenthood were truly a women’s health organization, wouldn’t it make sense to have someone with a medical background at the helm? Yet, even the current chair of the Board of Directors is a political operative with no degrees or experience in healthcare or medicine. Surely, executive staff level Planned Parenthood hires individuals with significant healthcare credentials, right? Wrong. Planned Parenthood’s Executive Vice President for Health Care, Kim Custer, worked at Macy’s before working for and eventually taking the helm of Planned Parenthood in Pennsylvania. Her degree from the University of Oregon is in political science of course. Melvin Galloway, Executive Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of the Planned Parenthood Federation, has also (according to LinkedIn) never spent a day working in a healthcare facility. Galloway instead spent time in political operations and non-profit development.

You’d be hard pressed to find an executive level hospital administration job that didn’t require any degrees or experience in medicine. Likewise, you’d expect anyone running a women’s health clinic to know something about healthcare. But that’s not a qualification for working at Planned Parenthood. Interestingly enough, in researching the backgrounds of other “women’s health” advocates who run major “women’s health centers” across the country there was a glaring deficit of experience or education in any fields related to healthcare. 

It’s easy to see how Dr. Wen may have felt frustrated in her role as the lone medical professional trying to run an alleged “women’s health” organization. But, the truth in Dr. Wen’s firing reveals Planned Parenthood’s true mission—to abort babies, lobby for the abortion of babies, and to promote abortion rights. Healthcare provider or political machine? The answer to that is obvious.

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