Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen recently took to Twitter to combat any notions that she is backing away from the fight to keep abortion legal and taxpayer-funded, saying the killing of unborn babies is Planned Parenthood’s “core mission.”
Wen (shown), who became head of the nation’s largest abortion provider in November, was responding to a January 7 BuzzFeed News article whose headline, at least, suggested that she was trying to steer Planned Parenthood away from the abortion business. “Planned Parenthood’s New President Wants To Focus On Nonabortion Health Care,” read the headline. “The organization is still committed to providing abortions and reproductive care,” added the sub-headline, “but Wen, the first female physician to run Planned Parenthood, is embarking on a cross-country listening tour to learn how best add or expand nonabortion services.”
There were hints within the article that Wen was hoping to be a less political figure than her predecessor, Cecile Richards. It noted that Wen had changed Planned Parenthood’s public-relations campaign to the rather generic “This Is Health Care” instead of Richards’ more combative “#Fight4BirthControl” and “I Stand With PP.” It also pointed out that “some Democratic strategists are concerned that Wen’s shift to focusing on health care over politics is a sign Planned Parenthood is backing away from the fight” for abortion rights.
Wen quickly moved to quash any such ideas.
“I am always happy to do interviews, but these headlines completely misconstrue my vision for Planned Parenthood,” she tweeted, linking to the BuzzFeed piece.
She followed up with this blunt admission: “Our core mission is providing, protecting and expanding access to abortion and reproductive health care.” She continued: “We will never back down from that fight — it’s a fundamental human right and women’s lives are at stake.”
Of course, Planned Parenthood has long insisted that abortion is only a tiny part of what it does, a mere three percent of all its services rendered. Yet the organization performed over 321,000 abortions in 2016, more than one-third of all abortions in the United States that year. The Washington Post’s fact-checker awarded Planned Parenthood’s three-percent claim “three Pinocchios,” and even the left-leaning Slate called it “the most meaningless abortion statistic ever.” As National Review put it, “Planned Parenthood exists to provide abortions, and not much else.”
The BuzzFeed article makes it clear that Wen — who, as a child, immigrated with her parents to the United States from China, where she was fortunate not to have been aborted as so many babies, especially girls, were under the communist regime’s one-child policy — has no intention of abandoning what she sees as Planned Parenthood’s “core mission.”
“The last thing I would want is people to get the impression that we are backing off of our core services,” Wen told BuzzFeed. “What we will always be here to do is provide abortion access as part of the full spectrum of reproductive health care, it’s who we are.”
Nor is Wen planning to stay out of politics. “In fact,” wrote BuzzFeed, “she said she plans to expand Planned Parenthood’s political work” and “the organization will be heavily involved in the 2020 presidential elections ... and will continue to challenge the Trump administration’s abortion and reproductive health care policies.”
On Twitter, Wen likewise stated her intention to keep Planned Parenthood politically engaged, saying the group must carry on the fight against state abortion restrictions and explaining that while she plans to expand the group’s services, “it in no way means we are backing down from fighting for abortion access or from the important political work our advocacy organizations do.”
The BuzzFeed article appears to have been an accurate representation of Wen’s remarks: She wants Planned Parenthood to offer more services but intends to keep up the fight for legal abortion. But the headlines — often the only thing many people read — must have sent enough shock waves through the pro-abortion camp that Wen felt the need to distance herself from the article and clarify, in no uncertain terms, that Planned Parenthood, as its critics have long contended, is first and foremost in the abortion business. “It’s who [they] are.”
Photo of Leana Wen: AP Images