Picture-Perfect Planned Parenthood President

In light, or rather darkness, of the Supreme Court justice nominee, Planned Parenthood has named a new President after their current President, Cecile Richards, announced she would be stepping down. The recent hearings of Brett Kavanaugh have highlighted that women's reproductive rights may face serious challenges if he is appointed to the highest court in the United States. The new leading lady is Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room doctor and, most recently, Baltimore’s health commissioner. She will be the first doctor to head the non-profit in over 50 years. 

Everything you need to know:

Leana Wen fled China with her family at a young age following the Tiananmen Square Massacre and spent her childhood in California. In 2003, Wen and her family were granted political asylum. In addition to their dependence on Medicaid, the Wen women relied on Planned Parenthood for additional health welfare. After finishing medical school, Wen volunteered at a Planned Parenthood clinic and went on to be a Rhodes Scholar. Inspired by her own difficulties in securing adequate healthcare coverage throughout her childhood and adolescence, Wen pioneered closing racial disparities in health care and reducing infant mortality in Baltimore through enacting health care policies benefiting lower-income families and single mothers.

The never-ending fight:

Dr. Wen might be the patchwork in the thinning political fabric that is women’s reproductive rights and liberties. Fearful of reduced government funding and the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Wen fights to preserve women’s rights. Most recently, Wen pushed to preserve the funding for the Title X family planning program in Baltimore’s health clinics, a program geared to benefit low-income women.

Planned Parenthood has garnered massive waves of support in light of the Trump administration's attempts to cut budgets and shut down government-funded health clinic facilities. In fact, two million members have joined in the past two years, which brings membership up to 12 million in 2018. Wen will continue to garner and hold support for Planned Parenthood’s core mission. In addition to her crusade against the Trump Administration’s budget cuts to women’s health care, Dr. Wen is also an emergency physician who consistently demonstrates her ability to successfully respond to urgent situations and save lives. Wen explains why, "as a doctor,” she “will ensure we continue to provide high-quality healthcare, including [a] full range of reproductive care, and will fight with everything [she has] to protect the access of millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood.” Her medical background and active advocacy for advanced, universal healthcare makes her a picture-perfect president.

Perspective prominence:

As an immigrant, Wen will provide a much-needed and usually excluded perspective to women’s healthcare. Wen describes her Planned Parenthood experience as a child and young adult as something she depended on. As a student, she worked at George Washington University's hospital. Here, she recalls attempting to save a woman who fell victim to a botched home abortion. Wen says, "she was too scared to seek medical care" and because of that, "she died [as a result of] a failure in our system." As a public health leader, she has seen life-saving work in Baltimore's most vulnerable communities. And as if her childhood and professional career aren't enough, Wen is also a mother to her son, Eli. Even motherhood, Wen says, gives her fresh perspective on paid familial leave in response to Trump administration's budget cuts in progressive sex ed programs and family planning. Her combined experiences give her a firsthand outlook on the best version of healthcare. 

In addition to her unique perspective on access to healthcare, Dr. Wen works to spread her belief that the abortion procedures performed by Planned Parenthood save lives. As a dividing line in American politics, abortion is a right that not all are willing to stand up for. Believing that women should always have the choice to do what they wish with their bodies, Wen chooses to stand up for the right to an abortion, distinguishing herself as a strong leader in public health who will support women in any way she can. And since supporting women lies at the heart of the Planned Parenthood mission, it's no wonder why Dr. Wen is the picture-perfect president. 

 

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