As our Mairead McArdle noted earlier this afternoon, Planned Parenthood has announced Dr. Leana Wen as its new president. Wen will take over from Cecile Richards, who announced her resignation earlier this year after serving as the group’s president for more than a decade. It’s clear from the PR video released this afternoon that, under Wen’s direction, Planned Parenthood intends to barrel full-steam down the path blazed by Richards: light on facts, heavy on feel-good messaging.
And with a healthy dose of angry political activism. The video includes footage of the Women’s March, and Wen bills Planned Parenthood as the most important organization in the U.S. in the anti-Trump resistance movement. On this, too, facts need not apply.
In the video, Wen slams the Trump administration for cutting federal funding to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program — when in fact the HHS already reversed its decision to cut that funding earlier this summer. She also attacks the HHS proposal to make executive-branch policy consistent with the Hyde Amendment by removing Title X family planning funds from any group that performs abortions. Wen labels this proposal a “gag rule,” despite the fact that the proposed rule explicitly permits doctors to discuss abortion with their patients. (In true Planned Parenthood fashion, Wen wholly ignores the possibility that Planned Parenthood maintain its Title X funding by financially separating its abortion provision from its other, supposedly essential, health-care services.)
But, of course, critical observers are already aware that real health care isn’t the true focus of Planned Parenthood, which makes Wen’s rhetoric even more disingenuous. According to the group’s most recent annual report, Planned Parenthood facilities performed more than 320,000 abortion procedures in 2016 alone — one-third of the annual abortions in the U.S., making the organization the country’s largest abortion provider, by far.
Those abortion procedures dwarfed adoption referrals (3,889) and prenatal services (7,762) that year. Planned Parenthood performed 83 abortions for every one adoption referral, and its prenatal services have dropped steadily every year since 2009, from over 40,000 that year to just under 8,000 last year. This isn’t the “comprehensive women’s health care” they tout so vigorously. Aside from abortion, Planned Parenthood’s most common services are contraception, STD tests, and limited cancer screenings. (Despite their executives’ claims to the contrary, not a single Planned Parenthood location has a mammogram machine.)
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood facilities are outnumbered 20 to 1 across the country by federally qualified health-care centers, clinics that provide a wide variety of health-care options to low-income women without requiring that federal funds underwrite abortion procedures that many Americans object to.
Unlike Richards before her, Wen is a medical doctor, the first to head Planned Parenthood in several decades. She’s also an immigrant to the U.S. from China, a fact that she points to as part of why she wants to lead Planned Parenthood. “I wanted to fight for our most vulnerable individuals on a bigger scale,” Wen says in the video.
“Having a physician as the head of Planned Parenthood, it is a sign that what we are doing is mainstream medical care,” she adds. “Why is it not?” As a doctor who has sworn to uphold the Hippocratic oath and do no harm, Wen already knows the answer: because real medical care never ends a human life. If it were even possible, with the selection of this new president, the abortion group’s messaging about caring for the poor and vulnerable has gotten even more hypocritical.