by Mary Margaret Olohan
Planned Parenthood has a history of removing its presidents over ideological differences surrounding the political role of the organization.
Former Presidents Leana Wen and Pamela J. Maraldo were both removed from their positions for promoting healthcare over politics.
The Planned Parenthood board fired Wen Tuesday after she had served less than a year as president. The organization temporarily replaced Wen, an acclaimed MD, with the co-founder of the progressive Perception Institute, Alexis McGill Johnson.
Planned Parenthood removed Wen largely because of her issues managing Planned Parenthood, six sources told BuzzFeed. Requests for anonymity were granted so sources could speak openly, the publication noted. A source also revealed Wen’s removal was likely accelerated by the intense political climate surrounding abortion.
Sources claim Wen did not care about “the long-term future of abortion access work that had already been going on, saying there was no budget for it,” shied away from “trans-inclusive” language and told staff transgender issues might deter Planned Parenthood supporters in the Midwest.
But Wen is not the first Planned Parenthood president to be removed for prioritizing healthcare over politics.
Maraldo became Planned Parenthood’s president in 1993, shortly after former President Bill Clinton took office. She resigned July 21, 1995 after she failed “to muster a vote of confidence” from the Planned Parenthood board, according to the New York Times.
Like Wen, Maraldo could also boast a medical background. She obtained her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing, and was working as CEO of the National League for Nursing when Planned Parenthood hired her, according to the LA Times.
Sources inside and outside Planned Parenthood told the publication that Maraldo openly focused on promoting the organization as a broader women’s health organization. But Planned Parenthood affiliates at the time worried her approach would depreciate Planned Parenthood’s burgeoning role as an abortion-rights group aiding women in low-income areas.
“This organization is a leader because of our record of delivering health care, because we have more than 900 clinics and any woman can go to any clinic, regardless of her ability to pay and get excellent care with dignity,” said Ann F. Lewis, Planned Parenthood’s vice president for public policy and their chief spokeswoman in 1995, according to the New York Times. “That’s what we do, and that’s what we’re about, not what we do at headquarters.”
Wen and Maraldo also each faced highly political climates as presidents of Planned Parenthood.
Maraldo took office shortly before a rise in abortion doctor shootings. Michael F Griffin shot Dr. David Gunn outside his Pensacola, Florida, abortion clinic in March 1993, spurring former pastor Paul J. Hill to shoot and kill Dr. John Bayard Britton and a clinic volunteer the following year. The New York Times also states “dozens” of abortion clinics were the victims of chemical and arson attacks.
Maraldo’s response to the situation was to draft a reinvention document that suggested Planned Parenthood should focus on broader branding as women’s health clinic.
Since Wen became President of Planned Parenthood in the fall of 2018, she has seen a variety of highly restrictive abortion legislation enacted throughout the United States, particularly in Alabama where abortion is now almost entirely illegal.
Wen’s presidency also saw Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh replace former Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, potentially paving the way for conservatives to overturn Roe v. Wade through this fifth Supreme Court conservative judge.
The increasing number of pro-life legislation prompted Amanda Skinner, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Southern New England, to call the current political moment a “crisis time,” according to the New York Times.
Neither Planned Parenthood nor Maraldo responded to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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Mary Margaret Olohan is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Leana Wen” by Leana Wen. Background Photo “Planned Parenthood Building” by Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region & Southwest Missouri.