Possibility of legal action left open
By Dave Andrusko
When Dr. Leana Wen was unceremoniously ousted as president of Planned Parenthood last July, I wrote, in passing, that she had “refused to go quietly into the night.” That qualifies as one of the great understatements of 2019.
The New York Times reported over the weekend that it had obtained what reporter Shane Goldmacher described as “a barbed 1,400-word letter to Planned Parenthood’s board of directors” sent last week which included this doozy of a statement: “No amount of money can ever buy my integrity and my commitment to the patients I serve.”
No outsider can know what the real internal battle was at the nation’s leading “provider” of abortions—roughly a third of all abortions. Goldmacher describes the dispute this way:
The board of Planned Parenthood fired Dr. Wen, 36, in July after sharp disagreements over what officials there described as her abrasive and flawed management style. Dr. Wen blamed her sacking on disagreements over her reorienting the organization further from abortion politics and more toward its role as a women’s health provider.
In her September 9 letter, Dr. Wen wrote, according to Goldmacher, that
she believed that de-emphasizing “abortion care is the best way to protect it.” “However,” she went on, “there is a vocal minority” including many national staff and board members “who prefer a stridently political, abortion-first philosophy.”
My own take was, and is, that everything leading up to her ouster virtually screams out two things: First, “fall guy.” Times have been very difficult for PPFA since its long-time president, Cecile Richards, a Democrat party hack, chose to resign.
Second, Wen didn’t understand, chose to ignore, or was determined to change the reality that PPFA’s only purpose in choosing a physician was the prestige associated with having a doctor at the top. Their monomaniacal obsession with abortion and abortion politics is, was, and always will be Job #1. That is why PPFA so loved Richards, who thrived in political combat.
Back to what Goldmacher describes as Wen’s “increasingly contentious exit” in a “dispute that threatens to prolong and magnify an acrimonious transition at the top of the nation’s best known women’s health care and reproductive rights group.”
Planned Parenthood, not surprisingly, challenged Dr. Wen’s allegations at every point, including (ironically) her contention that they were trying to “gag” her. Goldmacher writes, quoting extensively from her letter, that Wen said
that Planned Parenthood was demanding her silence “in exchange for my contractually-guaranteed severance and continued health insurance coverage,” calling the efforts “unjust” and “unethical.”
Dr. Wen went so far as to invoke the recent Trump administration rules to accuse Planned Parenthood’s board of hypocrisy.
“It is deeply hypocritical,” she wrote, that Planned Parenthood, “would attempt to enforce a gag order on its immediate past President/CEO while fighting the Trump administration’s gag rule on Title X providers.”
Where this goes next is anyone’s guess. However Goldmacher noted, “In her recent letter, she left open the possibility of legal action. ‘I have no desire to file claims against Planned Parenthood for defamation, retaliation, or discrimination,’ she wrote ominously.”
On a much more pleasant note, last week Wen tweeted
As for my next chapter, I am thrilled to be a visiting professor @GWpublichealth, continuing my life’s work of caring for women, children & families. And my husband and I are so thrilled that we are expecting! We look forward to Eli becoming an older brother next March!— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) September 12, 2019
Dr. Wen suffered a miscarriage earlier this year and wrote an eloquent story about she and her husband’s loss in the Washington Post.
Perhaps it is no surprise, given that Planned Parenthood has been sued for discriminating against its own pregnant employees, that Wen’s failure to tell her board she was going to write the op-ed irritated them to no end.