Planned Parenthood on Tuesday removed its president after less than a year in the job, seeking new leadership at a time when abortion rights have come under increasing attack from statehouses and Republicans in Washington.
The move came after hours of negotiations Tuesday between the board of directors and the president, Leana Wen, according to two people familiar with the decision.
Dr. Wen had been the first physician to lead the organization in decades. The people familiar with the move said there had been internal strife over her management, and that the group felt it needed a more aggressive political leader to fight the efforts to roll back access to abortions.
The board voted unanimously on Tuesday to appoint Alexis McGill Johnson, the co-founder of the Perception Institute, an anti-bias research group, to temporarily replace Dr. Wen, the people said. Ms. McGill will serve as acting president and chief executive of both Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nonprofit that provides health care services, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, its political arm.
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Dr. Wen, in a statement on Tuesday afternoon, said she believed that “the best way to protect abortion care is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a health care one, and that we can expand support for reproductive rights.”
“I am leaving because the new board chairs and I have philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood,” she said.