Planned Parenthood on Wednesday announced that Dr. Leana Wen will take over as its president in November, replacing Cecile Richards, who stepped down in April after more than a decade with the organization.
Wen, 35, lived in China until she was almost eight, when her family fled to Compton, Calif. following the Tiananmen Square massacre. In a video accompanying the announcement, she said she’d used Medicaid and Planned Parenthood services when she was growing up. An emergency-room doctor by trade, she has served as the health commissioner for the city of Baltimore since 2014. She will become the first doctor in 50 years to head Planned Parenthood.
“I wanted to fight for our most vulnerable individuals on a bigger scale,” Wen said in the video. She went on to tout her role in Baltimore’s fights with the Trump administration, including one lawsuit over $5 million in federal funds for teen-pregnancy-prevention programs and another over Title IX funding for clinics serving low-income women.
“The single biggest public health catastrophe of our time is the threat to women’s health and the health of our most vulnerable communities,” Wen wrote in a letter to Baltimore residents.
In Congress, Republicans have threatened to strip Planned Parenthood of $500 million in annual federal funding, citing its role as the nation’s largest abortion provider, but so far they have failed to do so.
“We have to do everything we can to fight. Everything is at stake,” Wen said in the video. “There is no more important time than now, and no more important organization than Planned Parenthood.”