“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,” Wen said in a written statement released by the organization on Wednesday.
“As a patient, I depended on Planned Parenthood for medical care at various times in my own life, and as a public health leader, I have seen firsthand the lifesaving work it does for our most vulnerable communities,” she said. “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.”
In a separate statement released by the city of Baltimore, Wen said her last day as health commissioner will be Friday, October 12.
What new leadership may look like
As a result of the cuts, Wen estimated, 20,000 students in Baltimore would lose access to comprehensive teen pregnancy prevention programs and education.
“We see it as being irresponsible to cut this program now,” Wen told CNN at the time.
“This means that we will be able to continue our work in reducing teen birth rates, which fell 61% in Baltimore City from 2000 to 2016,” she said.
“Every day, I have to decide: Who are the people in our city who have access to this medication?” she said at the time. “I hope that Congress and the federal government will hear our pleas for help and provide us with the resources we need.”
She received her medical training from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Brigham & Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. In 2013, Wen was working at Massachusetts General Hospital the day of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Richards helped elevate the profile of Planned Parenthood, which has been the subject of criticism by anti-abortion organizations that have called on the government to strip its funding.
“I’m deeply proud of the progress we’ve made for the millions of people Planned Parenthood health centers serve across the country each year,” she said. “Every day we see the incredible power that grassroots voices can have — there has never been a better moment to be an activist. You can bet I’ll be marching right alongside them, continuing to travel around the country advocating for the basic rights and health care that all people deserve. I’ve been an activist my entire life — and that won’t stop any time soon.
A continuing battle
Richards’ departure came at a time when abortion rights are increasingly under pressure from conservatives and the Trump administration.
The law prohibits federal funds from being used for abortions. And even though Planned Parenthood insists that the Title X funding it receives is used for the many non-abortion services it provides — including access to birth control, Pap smears and pregnancy and STD testing — conservatives have long argued that Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care centers like it should be cut off from family planning federal funding altogether.
The bulk of federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives comes through reimbursements from Medicaid, which would not be affected by the new rule. It’s the fraction that comes from Title X that is at stake. About 4 million people depend on Title X-funded health clinics for care every year, according to Planned Parenthood.
News credit : Cnn