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Planned Parenthood Picks Physician, Immigrant as New President


FILE - A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building, Aug. 31, 2015.

Planned Parenthood has picked a first-generation Chinese immigrant and, for the first time in some 50 years, a physician to lead the beleaguered organization.

Leana Wen was an emergency room doctor before she left to become health commissioner for the city of Baltimore.

In a video released Wednesday by Planned Parenthood, Wen talks about how her family fled China when she was eight-years-old. She was raised in a poor section of Los Angeles where her family relied on Medicaid and Planned Parenthood for medical care.

She also recalled tending to a patient who arrived at the emergency room unresponsive and bleeding heavily from a home abortion. "I did everything I could to resuscitate her, but she died," Wen recalls.

Wen has been praised for what she accomplished in Baltimore, including reducing infant mortality to record lows, expanding trauma and mental health services and working to close racial disparity in health care.

Under her watch, Baltimore sued the Trump administration for cutting funds for teen pregnancy prevention. The city prevailed when a federal judge ordered that $5 million be restored to two prevention programs.

Wen takes over Planned Parenthood at a time when the organization is facing increasing push back from Republicans and ultra-conservatives who want to cut its federal funding and overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that granted women the right to access legal abortion.

The county's largest family planning provider is currently engaged in an intense fight against the confirmation of Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Abortion-rights activists fear Kavanaugh will steer the court to the right and be instrumental in overturning or greatly restricting Roe v. Wade.

Wen said she is ready for the challenge.

"For more than 100 years, no organization has done more for women's health than Planned Parenthood,'' Wen said. "As a doctor, I will ensure we continue to provide high-quality health care, including the full range of reproductive care and will fight with everything I have to protect the access of millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood.''

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