Dr. Leana Wen, the former president of Planned Parenthood whom the board fired in July amid a dispute over the group’s mission, is reportedly still locked in a contract disagreement with the board over the terms of her exit.
According to reports, Wen says that Planned Parenthood is refusing to give her severance pay and pay for her family’s health insurance unless she agrees to a gag clause.
The New York Times reported Saturday that Wen had on Sept. 9 sent a 1,400 word letter to Planned Parenthood’s Board of Directors, accusing the organization of withholding her contractually-mandated health insurance and severance pay as “ransom” to pressure her to sign a confidentiality agreement.
The Times has not released the full text of the letter, and Wen has expressed her disappointment that the letter leaked to the press.
“There should be no dispute regarding the terms of my employment contract, which are clearly spelled out,” she said in a statement.
Melanie Newman, a senior vice president for communications at Planned Parenthood, called Wen’s accusations “unfortunate, saddening, and simply untrue.”
“The attorneys representing the board have made every good faith effort to amicably part from Dr. Wen, and are disappointed that they have been unable to reach a suitable resolution regarding her exit package,” she said, as quoted by the Times.
According to the Times, Newman stated that Wen has remained on payroll during the negotiations and will be salaried through mid-October, with health benefits through the end of that month. She said Planned Parenthood had offered Wen a full additional year of salary and health benefits.
Wen took the reins at Planned Parenthood in September 2018, following the 12-year presidency of Cecile Richards. She was president until July 16, when she announced that the “board ended my employment at a secret meeting.”
“We were engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood,” she said via Twitter.
Wen cited philosophical differences with the new board chairs over the direction that the organization should be moving. Wen has said she firmly believes Planned Parenthood to be a healthcare organization, not primarily a political advocacy organization.
“The new Board leadership has determined that the priority of Planned Parenthood moving forward is to double down on abortion rights advocacy,” Wen said.
Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion performer in the United States. In 2016, the organization performed about one out of every three abortions.
Alexis McGill Johnson, a former political organizer, was named acting president after Wen’s ouster, and the organization has said that they hope to appoint a new president by the end of 2019.
Wen said in her September letter, as quoted by the Times, that “there is a vocal minority” including many national staff and board members “who prefer a stridently political, abortion-first philosophy.”
Wen has recently announced her new position as visiting professor at George Washington University, and also that she and her husband are expecting a baby.
Former Planned Parenthood director-turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson told CNA that Planned Parenthood is “once again showing their true loyalties” and that she hopes Wen will open up about her experience. Johnson left her position as Planned Parenthood and founded And Then There Were None, an organization that seeks to help abortion clinic workers leave the abortion industry.
“Dr. Wen has been horribly betrayed by Planned Parenthood. It's heartbreaking to watch her former employer throw her under the bus because she dared to question their commitment to actual healthcare,” Johnson said in a statement to CNA.
“They don't value their employees because they don't value people, especially pregnant women, who they see more as dollar signs than human beings.”
Johnson has been publicly reaching out to Wen on Twitter to encourage her to speak confidentially about her situation.
"Dr. Wen doesn't need to go through this ordeal alone,” Johnson said.
“I sincerely hope she knows she has an ally in me, someone who went through a similar situation and who has not only excellent attorneys but also a vast network of support through And Then There Were None who would welcome Dr. Wen with open arms.”
In the past decade, Planned Parenthood has seen its number of patients decline. The number of cancer screenings, contraceptives distributed, and prenatal services provided by the organization decreased as well.
Abortions, however, have increased by about 10 percent since 2006, despite Planned Parenthood seeing fewer patients.