Be it on TV, social media, or by penning opinion pieces, Planned Parenthood’s new president, Dr. Leana Wen, has been hard at work trying to convince Americans that abortion is mainstream medical care — as American as the flag, apple pie, and, well, motherhood.
You might expect such slick public relations work from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest abortion franchise, which performs more than one-third of all abortions in the United States. Hearing it from a trained medical doctor, however, is confusing, to say the least. Wen has even pointed to her time as Baltimore’s health commissioner, touting her role there as “doctor to the city,” to establish her credentials as someone who really cares about your health.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Just ask women in Baltimore.
Wen was hardly an impartial advocate for the medical needs of Baltimore women. Instead, she brought a limited view of women’s healthcare to her job and unlawfully used her post to try to silence the voices of those who support a Baltimore woman’s right to choose life.
Back in 2009, the mayor and city council of Baltimore passed an ordinance requiring pregnancy clinics that do not offer or refer for abortions to post a sign to that effect in their waiting rooms. The law empowered the city’s health commissioner, Wen, to issue notices and impose civil penalties upon noncompliant centers.
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The law targeted the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, a nonprofit, pro-life pregnancy center operating out of space that a local Catholic church provided. The center offers help, emotional and tangible, to women facing unexpected pregnancies. The free diapers, baby wipes, ultrasounds, and parenting classes are game changers for many pregnant women.
You might think that the “doctor for the city” would welcome such neighbor-helping-neighbor initiatives. But these supports threatened Wen’s “reproductive healthcare” plan for women in Baltimore. Although no one ever mistook the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns for an abortion clinic, Wen was ready to fine the center if it failed to post a disclaimer in its waiting room.
The center objected and went to court. This past January, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed Wen and company a significant loss in their anti-life campaign. The U.S. appellate court found that Baltimore’s action trampled on the free speech rights of the center. In its opinion, the judges warned Wen against “[w]eaponizing the means of government against ideological foes.”
The upshot: Women in Baltimore facing challenges during their pregnancy can still find support at the center, no thanks to Wen.
If Wen’s courthouse correction sounds familiar beyond Baltimore, it should. California tried to shut down pro-life pregnancy centers in the state. The state had a disclaimer notice requirement similar to Baltimore’s, but it went a step further. It required all licensed centers to refer women to the state’s low cost or free abortion services. The act’s greatest boosters were then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the state’s current top law enforcer, Xavier Becerra.
The U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and stopped the madness in NIFLA v. Becerra. The free speech protections of the First Amendment, the high court said late last term, prohibit the government from trying to co-opt private entities like pro-life pregnancy centers by undermining their relationship with women or being forced to deliver the state’s pro-abortion message.
So, despite the efforts of Wen, Harris, and Becerra, a pregnant woman in America can still find life-affirming help at our country’s pro-life pregnancy centers.
Unable to use the authority of local and state government to shut down the competition, Planned Parenthood has apparently changed tactics. Wen’s effort to highlight her medical credentials is a disingenuous effort to distinguish her from her predecessor and run-of-the-mill pro-abortion politicians. The fact that someone with a medical degree leads Planned Parenthood is a distinction without a difference.
If she is truly committed to the healthcare needs of Americans and not just another abortion zealot, Leana Wen might consider early retirement from her new Planned Parenthood post.
LifeNews Note: Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is a legal adviser for the Catholic Association Foundation.