planned parenthood, protest, cecile richards, leana wen, president, abortion

Meet Dr. Leana Wen, the New Inspiring-as-Hell President of Planned Parenthood

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Back in January of this year, Planned Parenthood announced that Cecile Richards would be stepping down after serving as the organization’s president for more than a decade. The decision came at an especially critical time in an ever-hostile fight with GOP lawmakers seeking to strip women of their reproductive rights.

Now, Planned Parenthood has introduced their new president, Dr. Leana Wen. The introduction video, posted to the organization’s Twitter account Wednesday, is incredibly inspiring.

Wen is an immigrant, who came to the U.S. from China as a young child and recalls her family relying on Planned Parenthood for healthcare. She describes her years as an ER physician and seeing a woman die after attempting to perform an abortion on herself.

Wen is obviously incredibly qualified for the job, having served as the Health Commissioner of Baltimore. In that position, she helped sue the Trump administration over their decision to end a federal grant for teen pregnancy prevention services two years early, and she won. She fought Trump’s gag rule, attempting to silence medical professionals and bar them from providing certain types of advice on abortion. She is clearly fiercely dedicated to fighting for women’s reproductive rights.

On top of all of that, by appointing a medical professional as Planned Parenthood’s President, rather than someone with a background in activism and politics, as Richards had, there is a clear message being sent that is vital in this fight: “Reproductive health care is health care. Women’s health care is health care. And health care has to be understood as a fundamental human right.”

Abortion has become so politicized that many people have forgotten that what Planned Parenthood provides is health care services. It is not an inherently political organization. It is a medical organization. And as 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.”

For far too long, the GOP has been hijacking the narrative surrounding abortion, birth control, and women’s bodily autonomy and reproductive rights. This is a clear step in reclaiming that narrative.

(image: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.