by Matt Carpenter
July 18, 2019
If you haven’t already heard, the nation’s largest provider of abortion just unceremoniously cut ties with its president, Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen served as president of Planned Parenthood for eight months and cited “philosophical differences” regarding how the organization should prioritize political activities as the irreconcilable difference that led to her employment being terminated.
In an open letter to Planned Parenthood affiliates and staffers, Dr. Wen explained that her vision for the organization was for it to be a “national health care organization” first, and an advocate second. Planned Parenthood’s board of directors held a different vision. According to Wen, the board believes the organization ought to focus on advocacy (read: politics) first.
Many people were exuberant once news of Wen’s firing was announced. One pro-life advocate had an entirely different take, however. Abby Johnson wrote the following in a post on Facebook:
I’m not an emotional person. I don’t cry easily or find myself overcome with emotions very often. But yesterday, I cried when I read Dr. Leana’s tweet stating that she had been fired from Planned Parenthood…
When I saw Dr Leana Wen’s salty tweet about Planned Parenthood firing her after management held “secret meetings,” I was overwhelmed with emotion. I know what that betrayal feels like. I know what this new transition in her life feels like. And guys, it sucks. BUT, she’s out. Maybe she didn’t leave because of a profound conversion, but she made it clear in her statement that she left because Planned Parenthood has too many problems that she can’t ignore. AND THAT IS AMAZING. She was in negotiations to leave her job because she couldn’t take it anymore. She couldn’t take their unabashed support of abortion, no matter the cost to women’s health. As a doctor, I’m sure the rose colored glasses were ripped off pretty quickly once she was inside. And now she’s out.
I don’t expect that she is prolife or even anything that resembles prolife. I wasn’t either when I first walked away from Planned Parenthood. But the chance for real conversion is so much greater now that she is away from that organization. And when that moment does come, I am ready. I am ready to chat with her for hours, to hear her story, to grieve with her, and to mourn the loss of her own child. I am here, arms open.
Let us all pray that her moment of clarity comes quickly. And when it does, she will need a safe place to land. Let’s make sure that the prolife movement is that place.
Johnson makes an important point the pro-life movement would do well to consider. We ought to stand ready to accept those coming out of the abortion industry/advocacy movement with open arms. Johnson herself knows this first hand (if you’re not familiar with her amazing story, you should go see the movie Unplanned).
Leana Wen hasn’t renounced the practice of abortion, but her abrupt departure reminds us that there are people at organizations like Planned Parenthood—people who may someday see the devastating toll of abortion. People like Abby Johnson.
For the pro-life movement to succeed in making abortion a thing of the past, it needs to change hearts and minds—especially of those in the abortion industry itself. For us to do that we need to pray. Changing the law and providing resources to women facing unplanned pregnancies are necessary to prevent abortion from happening today. However, lasting success for the movement depends on winning a spiritual war. As Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Ephesus: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). And that’s something we can’t do without prayer.
Matt Carpenter is the Deputy Director of State and Local Affairs at Family Research Council.