Planned Parenthood groups announce departure of president, acting leader named

Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen speaks at a protest against anti-abortion legislation at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., May 21, 2019. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

(Reuters) – Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a leading provider of reproductive services, and its political arm, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said on Tuesday they replaced their president, Dr. Leana Wen, effective immediately.

The Washington-based groups, which have engaged in fierce legal and political battles as some states have enacted severe restrictions on abortion rights, said they installed Alexis McGill Johnson as Wen’s acting replacement.

“Alexis is a renowned social justice leader, lifelong political organizer, and a tireless advocate for reproductive rights and access to quality, affordable health care,” PPFA and PPAF said in a statement.

The groups did not give a reason for Wen’s abrupt departure, but Wen expressed surprise at the announcement.

“I just learned that the @PPFA Board ended my employment at a secret meeting,” she wrote on Twitter. “We were engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”

The groups said, “We thank Dr. Leana Wen for her service to Planned Parenthood in such a pivotal time and extend our best wishes for her continued success.”

Johnson is the co-founder of the Perception Institute, a research group that works to reduce racial bias and other forms of discrimination. She formerly served on the boards of both Planned Parenthood groups, they said.

Reporting by Peter Szekely and Jonathan Allen in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler

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