Even though their numbers are usually inaccurate, Planned Parenthood has continually argued that abortion only makes up 3% of its “services.” But there is a new book out from a former head of the organization that sheds some light on reality. It suggests that abortion dictates 100% of Planned Parenthood’s direction.
Dr. Leana Wen published her memoir on July 27th. It gives information about her tenure as the president of the nation’s largest abortion provider. Dr. Wen gives an insider’s look at Planned Parenthood and their primary focus on abortion in “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health.”
She reveals that she was told to normalize talking about abortion and to do it in “every media interview.” One person also warned her that “If we don’t talk about abortion openly, loudly, and proudly, as a positive moral good, then we are further stigmatizing it.”
Wen only served as president for eight months and the Planned Parenthood suddenly “ended” her employment with a “secret meeting” in 2019. She said the departure happened due to “philosophical differences,” namely abortion.
“The new Board leadership has determined that the priority of Planned Parenthood moving forward is to double down on abortion rights advocacy,” she wrote in a statement.
Wen also revealed in the book that she had opposition from the powers that be from the very beginning of her time regarding how she handled abortion.
“One of the main points I wanted to get across was that health care shouldn’t be political,” she wrote in preparation for an appearance on ABC’s The View. “I had to come to this job as a doctor, and my charge was patients’ lives.”
The audience for the show responded with cheers and applause, but Planned Parenthood was less than enthused. Within an hour, “messages started coming,” some of which threw her “off guard.”
A board member texted her, “Next time, make sure you talk about abortion.” Then, “two people on the national staff” informed her that “back in the office, there was a lot of worried chatter.”
“Did I leave out abortion on purpose?” they wondered, Wen said. “Was this a signal that I didn’t want to defend access to abortion?”
One of them cut to the chase and advised her to “next time, just say the word.”
“You need to talk about abortion at every media interview,” the unnamed person added. “You’re the president of Planned Parenthood. People expect that from you.”
Wen began a reevaluation of Planned Parenthood.
“Until that moment, I’d thought that the overriding reason Planned Parenthood was equated with abortion instead of its other health-care services was the anti-choice opposition,” she said of pro-lifers. “I was taken aback to see that it wasn’t just the anti-choice side that wanted to brand Planned Parenthood with abortion.”
Wen identifies as “pro-choice” and agrees that “abortion should be safe and legal,” but she disagreed here.
Instead of being an “advocate for abortion,” she responded, “It’s more accurate to say that we’re advocates for all aspects of reproductive health, including birth control and sex education to reduce the need for abortion, right?”
It surprised her to know that she was actually wrong about this from Planned Parenthood’s perspective. She was told, “If we don’t talk about abortion openly, loudly, and proudly, as a positive moral good, then we are further stigmatizing it and the people who need it.”
According to Wen, this kind of rebuttal was a regularly encountered conversation.
“I would have some version of this conversation at least once every day with people on the board or national office staff,” she wrote.
Wen was also told, “Not all women who go through abortions think the decision was difficult. For some, it’s an easy one. Abortion is one of the safest procedures, and you can’t make it sound so dramatic.”
Wen’s position started to unravel when BuzzFeed interviewed Wen for a piece titled, “New Planned Parenthood President Wants to Focus on Non-abortion Healthcare” in January 2019. That interview “prompted such ire that the executive committee of the board met to discuss it.”
Dr. Wen was also “stunned by the tone” of Planned Parenthood’s political responses to then-President Trump’s administration. “What I hadn’t grasped was that the organization’s advocacy wasn’t restricted to reproductive health; it was fully aligned with progressive politics,” she said. “By the time I joined, Planned Parenthood was firmly ensconced within the base of the Democratic Party and considered itself to be a leader of the anti-Trump movement.”
She said, “I was given a choice: change, or leave.”
And soon after, she learned she was no longer president through a breaking news alert on her phone.