Leana Wen, who began serving as president and CEO at Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. in November, has stepped down from her position. In a letter to her colleagues, which she also shared on Twitter, Wen states that her departure was due to philosophical differences with the board over the direction of Planned Parenthood. Alexis McGill Johnson, who served as chairwoman of the board at Planned Parenthood from 2013 to 2015, will take over as acting president.
To all my colleagues at Planned Parenthood, the tens of thousands of dedicated people who are on the frontlines every day, providing life-saving, life-transforming care and fighting to protect access to that care: you are my heroes. Thank you for what you do. pic.twitter.com/6N4RMiTQAG
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) July 16, 2019
The reason for this seemingly abrupt change in leadership, as Wen outlines in her letter, is related to differences in opinion over the future direction of Planned Parenthood. Wen believed that the organization’s main function should be to provide medical care to women, while McGill Johnson sees advocating for women’s reproductive rights as first priority. In the wake of recent legislation restricting access to abortion in some states, many Planned Parenthood staffers and board members agreed that the organization was in need of a more politically-oriented leader who could advocate for patients’ rights.
McGill Johnson served on the board of directors for Planned Parenthood for 10 years. She stated that she is looking forward to “a smooth leadership transition in this critical moment for Planned Parenthood and the communities [they] serve.”