Planned Parenthood, former CEO come to agreement on severance dispute


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Planned Parenthood reached an agreement with its former president over the terms of her departure from the women’s health provider after weeks of contentious negotiations over her severance package, the organization announced Monday.

“The Planned Parenthood Federation of America board of directors and former president and CEO Dr. Leana Wen have reached an agreement on the terms of her separation from Planned Parenthood,” said Melanie Newman, a senior vice president for communications.

“We are glad that both parties have been able to work together and find a resolution, and look forward to continuing the crucial work of protecting and providing sexual and reproductive care for people across the country.”

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Wen had accused the health provider of hypocrisy for trying to silence her in exchange for her contractually agreed-upon severance package in a letter to its board of directors last week.

She led the organization for eight months when the board fired her in July over what it described as her abrasive and flawed management style, The New York Times reported.

Wen was the first doctor to hold the post in five decades when she replaced Cecile Richards in November 2018. She had previously served as Baltimore’s health commissioner.

Last week, Wen said via Twitter that she had obtained a visiting professorship at George Washington University, and that she is pregnant.

Weeks of intense negotiations over her severance package followed her departure. In a 1,400-word letter to the board obtained by The Times last week, Wen, 36, accused Planned Parenthood of withholding her payout and health insurance as “ransom” to get her to sign a confidentiality agreement.

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“No amount of money can ever buy my integrity and my commitment to the patients I serve,” Wen wrote.

Planned Parenthood disputed Wen’s claims, calling them “unfortunate, saddening and simply untrue.”

“The attorneys representing the board have made every good-faith effort to amicably part from Dr. Wen, and are disappointed that they have been unable to reach a suitable resolution regarding her exit package,” said Melanie Newman, a senior vice president for communications at Planned Parenthood.

In her letter, Wen said it was “deeply hypocritical” for the organization to try to enforce a gag order on her while at the same time fighting the Trump administration’s gag rule on Title X providers.

Dr. Leana Wen, the former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, is in fraught negotiations with the organization over her severance pay. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Planned Parenthood withdrew last month from Title X, a federal program that provides services to around 4 million low-income women, rather than comply with an administration rule that prohibits referrals to doctors for abortions. The group received around $60 million annually from the program.

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She said she had no plans to begin legal action for defamation, retaliation or discrimination.

Wen attributed her sacking to competing visions for the organization. She wanted to move it away from abortion politics to its traditional role as a women’s health provider, according to The Times. In her letter, she said “deemphasizing” abortion was the best way to protect it. However, a vocal minority prefers an abortion-first policy.

She also accused two board members of preventing her from addressing the full board.

On Saturday, Wen said “there should be no dispute regarding the terms of my employment contract, which are clearly spelled out.”Newman told The Times that Wen remains on the group’s payroll and will be paid through mid-October with health benefits through the end of that month.

She added that Wen was offered an additional year of salary and health benefits.

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The public airing of disagreements comes as Planned Parenthood has come under heavy scrutiny from states and the Trump administration. Several conservative-led states legislatures have passed highly-restrictive abortion measures in recent months, prompting a slew of lawsuits.

“We had expected to reach a resolution and finalize the package in the coming days, Newman said. “Our work is more necessary than ever, and we have never been more committed to it than we are today.”