Planned Parenthood announced Wednesday that Leana Wen will step up to the leadership position formerly held by Cecile Richards. Wen, 35, is an emergency room doctor who immigrated to the United States from China as a child. She was previously serving as the Baltimore City Health Commissioner.
Planned Parenthood said it is the first time in 50 years that a doctor has served as president, and Wen is the second physician president in the history of the organization.
In 2017, Wen, as the Baltimore City Health Commissioner, sued the Trump administration when they stopped funding the city’s teen pregnancy prevention program. According to the New York Times, Wen won the lawsuit and the programs were granted $5 million.
In a video announcement from Planned Parenthood, Wen proudly speaks of her immigrant status and said that growing up poor, her family relied on Planned Parenthood for health care.
Watch Planned Parenthood’s announcement video here:
— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) September 12, 2018
In the announcement, Wen did not shy away from the topic of abortion, instead sharing a personal story from her time as an emergency physician.
“I remember seeing a young woman lying on the stretcher, pulseless, and unresponsive because of a home abortion,” Wen said. “Because she was too scared to seek medical care. I did everything I could to resuscitate her. But she died. She died because of a failure in our system.”
Hiring a doctor for the head job of the organization shows a shift in message for Planned Parenthood. Their previous president, Cecile Richards, was the daughter of a Texas governor.
“Having physician as the head of Planned Parenthood, it is a sign that what we are doing is mainstream medical care,” Wen said in the announcement video.
Richards congratulated Wen in a tweet on Wednesday.
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) September 12, 2018
In a statement on her Facebook page, Wen promised to uphold the mission and message of the organization. “I will ensure we continue to provide high-quality health care, including the full range of reproductive care, and will fight to protect the access of millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood,” she said.