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Planned Parenthood’s Leana Wen Firing Proves Abortion Isn’t ‘Three Percent'

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AP Photo/Steven Senne

Pro-life groups and news outlets alike have repeatedly debunked Planned Parenthood’s claim that abortion is “only three percent” of its “services.” Now, its latest president is too.


After serving as the president of Planned Parenthood for eight short months, Leana Wen discovered that the nation’s largest abortion provider had suddenly “ended” her employment during a “secret meeting” on July 16. Planned Parenthood had initially lauded its new leader: a Chinese immigrant whose family once relied on the organization was coming back to lead it as a physician – the first at its helm in nearly 50 years. 

But her supposed medical focus may have been at the root of her departure: Leana Wen was trained as a doctor, not a politician. And a political activist – with a doctor’s face – was what Planned Parenthood wanted.

Planned Parenthood’s firing came even while Wen was “engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure,” she shared on Twitter. In her reaction to the board’s decision, Wen revealed why: abortion.

“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,” she urged before adding that she was departing because of “philosophical differences.”

Differences concerning abortion, that is. In another, longer statement shared on Twitter, Wen addressed her colleagues. 


“The new Board leadership has determined that the priority of Planned Parenthood moving forward is to double down on abortion rights advocacy,” she wrote. “With the landscape changing dramatically in the last several months and the right to safe, legal abortion care under attack like never before, I understand the shift in the Board’s prioritization.”

But Americans might not. Wen appeared obsessed with abortion after insisting in January that abortion was Planned Parenthood’s “core mission” – words her predecessor, Cecile Richards, never used. Her comments came after a Buzzfeed headline claimed Wen wanted to “focus on nonabortion health care.”

She “doubled down” on abortion after that. In her goodbye statement, Wen listed all that she had done for Planned Parenthood in the name of abortion. Under her leadership, Planned Parenthood launched national campaigns to advertise abortion as health care, sued the Trump administration over Title X funding, and mobilized celebrities, politicians, and business executives to promote its agenda. 

Wen emphasized her fight to keep Missouri’s very last abortion clinic open as well as Planned Parenthood’s effort against state abortion bans. That included, she said, a successful push to pass “more proactive legislation to protect abortion access than any year in recent history.”


On top of that, in anticipation of the 2020 presidential race, Planned Parenthood hosted a “presidential forum dedicated to women’s health and reproductive rights” with 20 candidates in attendance. 

It’s a scary thought that Wen didn’t do enough – wasn’t political enough – on abortion for Planned Parenthood. 

According to Buzzfeed and Huffington Post sources, there were other reasons. Among them, they said, Wen suffered from management issues, a fundraising loss, and a failure to speak “trans-inclusive” language.

And, as its allies like to repeat, “abortion services” are just 3% of what Planned Parenthood does, according to its most recent annual report. For the fiscal year 2017–18, that meant Planned Parenthood performed 332,757 abortions.

But that’s not the whole story. Planned Parenthood’s three percent has been debunked not only by pro-life groups like Live Action, but also media organizations, including the Washington Post and Slate. Now its own (former) president suggests the same. If abortions are just three percent, why do they determine Planned Parenthood’s direction 100 percent?

Planned Parenthood has demonstrated before how central abortion is to its mission. It refused to give up abortion in exchange for federal funding after an offer by the Trump administration. Former Planned Parenthood workers, like Abby Johnson, have confirmed that Planned Parenthood has an “abortion quota.” Other former employees from Johnson’s group, And Then There Were None, agree. In 2017, one former worker called Planned Parenthood an abortion “sales team,” while another stressed that it has “one agenda" which is “to end a pregnancy.” 


Even if Planned Parenthood’s abortions amounted to 0.001%, that would be far too many. Each and every abortion represents an unborn baby’s life violently taken. That’s why Wen’s rallying cry that “abortion is health care” was doomed, even from the start. Health care saves lives; abortion ends them.

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