Planned Parenthood's New President Was Once A Planned Parenthood Patient

She's also the first doctor to oversee the organization in over 50 years.

Baltimore physician Dr. Leanna Wen will replace Cecile Richards as Planned Parenthood's president. The organization made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon, several months after Richards stepped down from the position after 12 years.

Born in Shanghai, Wes moved to the United States with her family at a young age and went to achieve great success at a number of prestigious universities. As noted by The New York Times, She graduated from California State University at only 18 and later earned a master's degree from the University of Oxford, as well as a medical degree from the Washington University School of Medicine. 

Now an emergency room doctor also serving as Baltimore City's health commissioner, Wes has long been active in fighting for suitable health care for several years. Following President Donald Trump's election, the physician helped a lawsuit against the administration, claiming it unlawfully sabotaged the Affordable Care Act. She's also spoken out against the administration's policies on women's health care and reproductive rights.  

"She has dedicated her career to fighting for health care for all, both as a doctor and as a public health leader in the city of Baltimore,"  Richards posted on Twitter of Wen, adding that she "couldn't be prouder" to name her as her successor. "I know she'll be a champion for Planned Parenthood patients and for women, men, and young people everywhere."

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Naomi Aberly, the chair of the Planned Parenthood Federation of American Board of Directors, also lauded Wen's potential to drive the future of the company. "A dynamic public health leader and practicing physician, Dr. Wen is the first doctor to lead Planned Parenthood in nearly 50 years," she said in a statement posted on the organization's website. "Not only will she help Planned Parenthood continue to provide high-quality care to women, men, and young people across the country, she will be a powerful voice in our fight to ensure women have the ability to make their own health care decisions — no matter what."

Wes has long ties to the Planned Parenthood community, having served as both a past patient and later a volunteer at a St. Louis center during medical school. "I have seen firsthand the lifesaving work it does for our most vulnerable communities,"   the new president said of Planned Parenthood in her statement. 

She went on to add, "As a doctor, I will ensure we continue to provide high-quality health care, including the full range of reproductive care, and will fight with everything I have to protect the access of millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood."

The addition of Wes to Planned Parenthood comes at a crucial time. Though women's rights advocates and organizations (including Planned Parenthood) have spoken out against changes made to health care policy, they have become increasingly vocal in light of the possible confirmation of Supreme Court nominee,Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh's careful answers during Senate hearings have fueled fear that Roe v. Wade could be overturned should he earn a seat. 

As the new president of Planned Parenthood, Wes will continue to lead efforts in the interest of protecting women's health care against restrictive policies. The physician is expected to formally begin the position on Nov. 12. 

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