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Healthcare is local.” The goal of the listening tour, she says, is to give her more insight into the local healthcare needs of those communities–and how Planned Parenthood is meeting those needs.
The listening tour also nods at another challenge Wen faces.
During Richards’s 12-year stint as president, Planned Parenthood had to fend off ceaseless attacks by a Republican-majority Congress looking to defund the organization and more recently, the Trump administration’s embrace of that agenda.
That won Planned Parenthood more allies, too—it now has 12 million supporters, up from 3 million in 2006–but it also painted the organization as unapologetically political.
For us, this is about respecting the dignity and well-being of all families and all people.”That said, Wen believes real change needs to come from a federal and state level, to ensure broader access to paid family leave.
Which is to say Wen isn’t exactly poised to lead Planned Parenthood into a less political era–quite the opposite, in fact, with the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Planned Parenthood has about 12,000 employees across more than 600 health centers, which are run by regional affiliates that have their own leadership and HR policies.
Make no mistake: At Planned Parenthood, we do not tolerate discrimination or harassment.” Wen says Planned Parenthood is investigating the allegations of discrimination and reviewing its parental leave policies through a new initiative. “We’ve started to seek the advice of external experts; we are working now with our affiliates and leaders at our national office to advise on best practices and assist with the implementation.
“We have 55 affiliates across the country that exist in very different climates,” Wen says.
“The political climate is different, the healthcare climate is different, and the communities and their needs are therefore different.
The choice to install Wen at the helm of Planned Parenthood on the cusp of 2019, especially after Cecile Richards’s tenure, seems like an intentional one.
Though Planned Parenthood offers a spectrum of healthcare services to nearly 2.5 million patients per year, it has long been seen as a battleground for abortion rights.
“I think about how much we struggled at times for something as basic as healthcare,” she says.