Planned Parenthood ousts Leana Wen as president

Planned Parenthood on Tuesday removed Dr. Leana Wen as its president, a stunning move that comes less than a year after she took the helm of the organization.

Wen, the first physician to lead the group in decades, tweeted that she learned the board ended her employment at a "secret meeting" shortly after The New York Times reported the move.

"I am leaving because the new Board Chairs and I have philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood," Wen said in a statement.

"I will always stand with Planned Parenthood, as I continue my life's work and mission of caring for and fighting for women, families and communities," she added.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund's board of directors thanked Wen for her service in a statement announcing her departure. 

“We thank Dr. Leana Wen for her service to Planned Parenthood in such a pivotal time and extend our best wishes for her continued success," board Chairwomen Aimee Cunningham and Jennie Rosenthal said in a statement. 

Alexis McGill Johnson, a Planned Parenthood board member, will serve as acting president effective immediately.

A search for a new president and CEO will start early next year, with a goal of having a president in place by the end of 2020.

Wen’s departure comes as battles over abortion bans heat up at the state and federal levels. 

Alabama recently passed a de-facto ban on the procedure, which has not taken effect and is being challenged in court. Several other states have passed bans on the procedure after at about six weeks of pregnancy. 

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has succeeded in cutting millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood through changes to the Title X family planning program. 

Wen was appointed to the role last September following the departure of former President Cecile Richards, a powerhouse Democratic operative.

But Wen, who was Baltimore's health commissioner before taking the job, took a different approach, focusing on abortion as a health care issue and not as a political one. 

"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, and that we can expand support for reproductive rights by finding common ground with the large majority of Americans who understand reproductive health care as the fundamental health care that it is," Wen said Tuesday.

Updated at 5:36 p.m.