The Corner

Health Care

Planned Parenthood’s President Admits Abortion Is Group’s ‘Core Mission’

Leana Wen during a TED Talk in 2014 (TEDx via YouTube)

Planned Parenthood’s new president Leana Wen is in over her head. This morning, she’s upset about media coverage that takes her at her word.

Some context. Wen is a Baltimore-area doctor who took the reins at Planned Parenthood late last year after the resignation of Cecile Richards, who led the group for twelve years. Since taking over, Wen has orchestrated an intensified PR push to portray the abortion provider as a health-care organization.

The group’s primary slogan at the moment is “This is health care,” and Wen has prefaced at least a dozen tweets since becoming president with the phrase “As a doctor,” a clear effort to trade on her status as a physician and convince observers that abortion is, in fact, health care.

But, of course, it is not. Medical care is designed to heal the human body and allow it to flourish, never to deform or mutilate it. A procedure with the direct aim of killing a human being — born or unborn — can never rightly be called health care.

Which is why Wen is leading a full-court press to convince the public otherwise. Yesterday, Buzzfeed published a lengthy look at Wen’s strategy for Planned Parenthood, reporting on her cross-country tour searching for ways to provide more routine health-care services to women. The profile also noted her effort to refocus the group away from politics: “People aren’t coming to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement,” Wen told Buzzfeed.

But Wen is displeased with the news outlet’s final product. “I am always happy to do interviews, but these headlines completely misconstrue my vision for Planned Parenthood,” she tweeted this morning. “Our core mission is providing, protecting and expanding access to abortion and reproductive health care,” Wen added.

This is an interesting admission from a group that ritually insists abortion is a mere 3 percent of the services it provides — a statistic that has been debunked by sources such as the Washington Post and Slate. Is abortion the group’s core mission, or are we meant to believe that upwards of 321,000 abortions per year amount to a rounding error?

In her tweet thread, Wen next conceded a common critique from the pro-life movement: that Planned Parenthood is, as she herself puts it, “a powerful political force.” On the first official day of her tenure, Wen said in a CBS interview that she’s a physician with no interest in politics, and that Planned Parenthood is in the business of providing health care, not stirring up political controversy.

Now, however, she appears to be changing her tune: “The 2018 midterms, including the record number of women and the historic pro-reproductive health majority elected to House, prove that Planned Parenthood continues to be a powerful political force across the country.” She also noted that “serving . . . patients MUST include fighting [abortion] restrictions in legislatures and at the ballot box.”

Here she shows her lack of expertise, playing right into the hands of pro-life politicians and activists who have long criticized the group for its symbiotic relationship with the Democratic party. Perhaps next Wen would like to acknowledge that Planned Parenthood’s massive political-action arm pours millions of dollars into electing Democrats every cycle — all to prop up politicians who will turn around and vote to funnel half a billion dollars back into the abortion provider’s coffers each year.

Less polished than Richards and with little to go off of aside from the “Doctor” in front of her name, Wen is clearly out of her depth. Contrasting the interview she gave to Buzzfeed with this morning’s statement on Twitter, it becomes clear that Planned Parenthood’s new president has a penchant for muddling the organization’s talking points and inadvertently revealing its investment in pushing for laws that protect its lucrative abortion business.

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