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PPFA names new president but aura of scandal remains

WASHINGTON (BP) — Planned Parenthood has a doctor as its new president but continues to carry its scandal-plagued reputation as the country’s No. 1 abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) announced Wednesday (Sept. 12) the selection of Leana Wen as the sixth president in its century-long history. Wen has been health commissioner of the city of Baltimore for the last 3 1/2 years and becomes the first physician to head the organization in nearly 50 years.

Wen, who succeeds Cecile Richards after her 12-year tenure, takes over Planned Parenthood three years after undercover videos were first released that provided evidence the organization was trading in body parts from aborted babies. The investigation by the Center of Medical Progress (CMP) prompted congressional examination of the organization and a reported investigation by the Department of Justice, as well as renewed federal defunding efforts.

Planned Parenthood has continued to receive more than $500 million a year in government funds despite the reports and investigations as well as its record of performing more than 300,000 abortions annually.

Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said of PPFA’s new president, “How sad it is that someone with as inspiring a life story and as notable a health care record as has Dr. Leana Wen would lead now an organization devoted to tearing apart human dignity and the sanctity of life. The profit-driven abortion industry preys upon vulnerable women and their voiceless children.

“Dr. Wen’s family immigrated to the United States after the Tiananmen Square massacre,” Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in written comments to Baptist Press. “One would think that seeing the complete disregard for human life, born and unborn, by the Chinese government would serve as a word of warning as to where such callousness leads. One can hope that one day Dr. Wen will see a change of mind and heart on the value of human life.”

Messengers to the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention meeting adopted a resolution calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood at all levels of government and denouncing the organization’s “immoral agenda and practices.”

David Daleiden, leader of CMP’s undercover video project, cited Wen’s leadership of “radical transparency” initiatives regarding doctors’ views on issues such as abortion.

“In this spirit, Planned Parenthood and its new president should immediately disclose how many abortions Dr. Wen has performed, whether she will perform abortions as Planned Parenthood president and up to what gestational age, and if she supports contracts for baby body parts like the ones the biggest Planned Parenthood affiliates entered into under Richards’ leadership,” Daleiden said in a written statement.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said, “Planned Parenthood’s selection of a doctor to be their next president is an opportunity to clean up their sorry record.”

Planned Parenthood specializes “in ending the lives of unborn children, not offering lifesaving health care,” she said in a written release. “The best thing Dr. Wen could do for Planned Parenthood is to help them live up to their claim of being an authentic women’s health care provider.”

Yet pro-life advocates do not expect Wen to change PPFA’s practices given the record both the organization and she have compiled. Planned Parenthood’s clinics performed 321,384 abortions in the 2015-16 year, according to its latest report in 2017.

Other undercover investigations by pro-life organizations during the last two decades have shown Planned Parenthood employees:

— Demonstrating a willingness to aid self-professed sex traffickers whose prostitutes supposedly were in their early teens.

— Seeking to conceal alleged child sex abuse.

— Agreeing to receive donations designated for abortions of African-American babies.

Wen, who came to the United States with her parents when she was 7 years old, often depended, along with her mother and sister, on Planned Parenthood for health care, according to the PPFA release announcing her selection. While in medical school, she volunteered at a Planned Parenthood center in St. Louis.

She has led an effort to turn back the Trump administration’s plans to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from receiving Title X money. The Department of Health and Human Services announced in May a regulation that would bar organizations that perform or refer for abortions from receiving federal money through the family planning program.

Wen said in the PPFA release, “For more than 100 years, no organization has done more for women’s health than Planned Parenthood, and I’m truly honored to be named its president. 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.”

Congressional attempts the last two years to defund PPFA have failed despite President Trump’s commitment to the effort. Planned Parenthood, which reportedly receives $50-$60 million yearly in Title X money, collected $543.7 million in government grants and reimbursements in the financial year that closed June 30, 2017.

Planned Parenthood came into existence when eugenicist Margaret Sanger opened a Brooklyn birth control clinic in 1916. It took the lead in the abortion business in this country when a New York affiliate began performing the procedures in 1970. New York legalized abortion that year, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on the procedure.