For those who have been following the tumultuous changes in leadership at Planned Parenthood over the last few years, Dr. Leana Wen’s departure as president of the abortion giant in 2019 may have come as no surprise. After all, Wen had suffered a miscarriage shortly before her departure and was deeply struggling with the loss. A clean and amicable break from the organization seemed only natural.
Or was it something else?
Since her removal from the position in 2019, Dr. Wen has been fairly open about her and the board’s “philosophical differences between the direction and future of Planned Parenthood,” even writing an op-ed for the Washington Post in which she asserts that some in the organization attempted to capitalize on her devastating loss for the sake of maintaining some semblance of a smooth leadership transition.
However, since the release of her book Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health, more details have surfaced regarding Wen’s departure that reflect just how deep the chasm has become not only between abortion advocates and those who are pro-life, but within the “pro-choice” community itself.
In the book, Wen details how, after finishing her appearance as the new president of Planned Parenthood on ABC’s The View, she received a text from a colleague that said: “Good job on The View. Next time, make sure you talk about abortion.” Shortly thereafter, she was told by a national Planned Parenthood staff member, “You need to talk about abortion at every media interview. You’re the president of Planned Parenthood. People expect that from you.” And yet again, Wen describes how another colleague told her, “Not saying ‘abortion’ sounds as if you’re ashamed of it.”
Wen writes how these interactions quickly revealed the top priority at Planned Parenthood: abortion. Although Wen describes herself as “pro-choice,” she says that she initially took on the position at Planned Parenthood to “lead a national health care organization that provides essential primary and preventative care to millions of underserved women and families, and to advocate for a broad range of policies that affect our patients’ health.” Her visions for Planned Parenthood included expanding and advocating health care screenings, newborn and postnatal care, birth control, and other services that would ultimately reduce the need for abortions. Wen wanted to promote Planned Parenthood as a well-rounded health care organization rather than an abortion corporation.
But she quickly discovered that being labeled an “abortion corporation” was exactly what Planned Parenthood board and staff members wanted. Other health care services were secondary; abortion was the focus—something to be owned and something to be celebrated. Gone are the days of ensuring that abortion remains “safe, legal, and rare.” Now, Wen says, staffers and board members at Planned Parenthood are of an altogether different mindset: “If we don’t talk about abortion openly, loudly, and proudly, as a positive moral good, then we are further stigmatizing it and the people who need it.”
This radical position is reflected in the very services that Planned Parenthood provides. Although abortion rates have been declining overall in the United States, abortion rates at Planned Parenthood itself continue to increase, with the corporation now committing 40% of all abortions in the United States. At the same time, other health care services that it provides have continued to decrease: since 2004, cancer screenings have declined by 72%; Pap tests have declined by 77%; and manual breast exams have declined by 75%. Many wrongly believe Planned Parenthood provides free ultrasounds for all their clients. Planned Parenthood “talks about providing ultrasounds, but the last thing they want to do is show a pregnant woman an image of her growing child. So, they don’t. The ultrasound is only for Planned Parenthood’s use—to better facilitate patients’ abortions” [“What You Need to Know about Planned Parenthood,” PragerU.com]. Despite being marketed as a health care organization that provides a wide range of services, abortion is the top priority, and it is something that Planned Parenthood wears like a badge of honor.
The troubling details in Dr. Wen’s book serve as a reminder of abortion advocates’ growing distaste for keeping abortions “safe, legal, and rare” in place of something far more radical and far more sinister: Why stigmatize abortion at all when it’s a moral good? Why prevent abortions when we can shout and celebrate them? As the divide among those who identify as “pro-choice” continues to increase and radical positions on abortion sweep the nation, it is clear that a “nuanced” or “middle of the road” stance on abortion is no longer welcome at the table in an organization like Planned Parenthood.
In reality, this increased radicalism shouldn’t be a surprise. In fact, one could argue that this new wave of abortion advocacy is, at the very least, more honest about its barbarity than the diluted abortion advocacy of the past. When it comes to abortion, there really isn’t much room for nuance. The sanctity of human life is a black and white issue. As believers, we know this because it is abundantly clear in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. Let’s take a quick look at what the Bible has to say about the sanctity of human life and the value of pre-born babies and ask ourselves how black and white this issue is in Scripture:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.Jer 1:5
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.Ps 139:13-16
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.Ps 127:3
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb.Luke 1:41
When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.Exod 21:22-25, emphasis added
Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.Gen 9:6
Scripture is clear: every person, from the moment of conception, was created in the image of God and is precious in His sight. Every child in the womb is a beautiful creation worthy of the most fundamental human right: the right to life. As abortion corporations like Planned Parenthood seem to become louder in their defense of the killing of the unborn, it’s time for the pro-life community—particularly believers—to be all the more fervent and vigilant in the fight for life.