Healthcare

Planned Parenthood to appoint Baltimore health official as next president

Baltimore's health commissioner Leana Wen, a Chinese immigrant, will be the next president of Planned Parenthood, the organization announced Wednesday. 

It marks the first time in nearly 50 years that a physician will lead the organization. Wen succeeds Cecile Richards, who served as Planned Parenthood's president since 2006.

Planned Parenthood's search committee for a new president unanimously selected Wen.

"Like so many of our affiliate leaders, she is passionate about balancing public advocacy for reproductive freedom with the daily provision of quality health care," said Anna Quindlen, chair of the search committee.

"Like so many of our patients, she is an immigrant determined to do the best for this country. As she likes to say, her whole life has been leading to this position."

Wen led the Baltimore City Health Department since January 2015 and is an emergency physician. She immigrated from China to the U.S. with her parents when she was eight years old. She grew up in Los Angeles.

In her role at the Baltimore City Health Department, she oversees more than 1,000 employees, two clinics that provide more than 18,000 patients with reproductive health services, and medical programs for 180 Baltimore schools. Her last day will be Oct. 12 and her first day at Planned Parenthood will be Nov. 12.

"As a patient, I depended on Planned Parenthood for medical care at various times in my own life, and as a public health leader, I have seen firsthand the lifesaving work it does for our most vulnerable communities," Wen said in a statement.

"As a doctor, I will ensure we continue to provide high-quality health care, including the full range of reproductive care, and will fight with everything I have to protect the access of millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood."

Wen has also been involved in the resistance against the Trump administration. 

The city of Baltimore sued the Trump administration, on behalf of Wen and the health department, for cutting short federal grants for teen pregnancy prevention. 

The grants were restored. 

She also lead a lawsuit against the Trump administration alleging that it intentionally and unlawfully sabotaged the Affordable Care Act. 

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