News and Commentary

Former Planned Parenthood Head: I Was Told That Writing About My Miscarriage ‘Stigmatized Abortion’
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 8: Dr. Leana Wen is the new President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The former head of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Leana Wen, says in her forthcoming autobiography that individuals “aligned with” the abortion conglomerate objected to an op-ed she wrote about suffering a miscarriage because it “stigmatized abortion” to speak of the deep emotional impact women suffer after losing an unborn child.

Wen makes a number of shocking claims in her forthcoming book, “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health,” but chief among them is a story about her departure from the “women’s health chain,” which she says came about because she wanted to focus on providing women’s health care while Planned Parenthood’s board wanted her to serve as an advocate for abortion.

“The emergency physician and former Baltimore health commissioner had tried to position the organization as a nonpartisan healthcare institution, but its board wanted to double down on its progressive, pro-abortion advocacy,” Business Insider noted earlier this week. She was told to alter her approach or resign as the group’s head.

While deciding whether she would leave the organization, Wen says she suffered a miscarriage which, she says, “was devastating in a way that I couldn’t have anticipated.”

Instead of granting her additional time off to process her loss, Planned Parenthood’s board voted to terminate her tenure, and then, she says, they suggested that she go public about her miscarriage as a way of explaining her departure.

“The pain was compounded by others in her organization suggesting she use the loss to explain her departure in July 2019. ‘This was offensive and hurtful on so many levels,’ Wen wrote,” per BI.

“Wen had told a colleague about her pregnancy loss, who told others without Wen’s consent. Once the idea to use the heartbreak for public relations purposes circulated, Wen decided to take control by writing an op-ed for the Washington Post ‘so as not to have this deeply personal experience stolen from me,’ she wrote,” according to the outlet.

“I could not fathom the additional trauma if this news were made public by others who wished to use it for their own purposes,” she said.

The op-ed was focused on Wen’s commitment to women’s health, and claimed that state laws that restrict abortion could have the unintended effect of seeking care for miscarriage more difficult, but Wen also spoke of the emotional toll wrought by miscarriage, identifying the emotional difficulties of losing a child, and the less-discussed feelings of “numbness” and “guilt.”

She was clear that, when she lost her unborn child, she was sad.

Wen told Business Insider that “the op-ed prompted thousands of people with similar experiences to write her with gratitude, but others, presumably aligned with Planned Parenthood, said writing about miscarriage stigmatized abortion.”

While Wen doesn’t say, outright, that the organization itself was behind the heartless response, she goes on to note that her decision to ask for additional time off to grieve her unborn child may have played a part in Planned Parenthood’s board voting to send her packing — a vote Wen wasn’t aware of until she received a text message from a news organization.

“When the organization declined her request to have more time to decide on the ultimatum so she could recover with family, she knew what she had to do: leave,” Business Insider said. “But before her lawyers could come to a mutually agreed upon departure statement, Planned Parenthood’s board voted her out. She learned about it through a New York Times news alert on her phone.”

Wen is quick to note that she is still supportive of Planned Parenthood’s mission, even though her book is harshly critical.

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