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Planned Parenthood has named interim president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson as its new permanent leader, in a bid to bring stability to the health care provider that has come under repeated attacks by conservative groups.
McGill Johnson will continue to lead both Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the organization’s advocacy arm, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
McGill Johnson has been Planned Parenthood’s interim leader for almost a year, taking up the position after the abrupt removal of its former president, Leana Wen, who was removed last summer after less than 12 months in the top role.
Wen cited “philosophical differences” between her and members of Planned Parenthood’s board of directors. But there were also questions about her leadership style and whether Wen, who had been Baltimore’s public health commissioner, was the best fit for the job.
Planned Parenthood faced those internal issues while also coming under attack by the Trump administration as well as state legislatures that have sought to pass severely restrictive abortion bans.
As NPR’s Sarah McCammon has reported, “Many Planned Parenthood clinics provide abortions along with other reproductive health services, but using federal funds to pay for abortions is prohibited in most cases.”
One month after Wen’s departure, Planned Parenthood opted to withdraw from the federal government’s Title X family planning program rather than follow new Trump administration rules that sought to bar recipients from offering direct abortion referrals.
“Since I stepped into the acting role last year, Planned Parenthood has battled serious threats to patients’ care,” McGill Johnson said Friday, “from the exclusion of Planned Parenthood providers from Title X funding to states’ continued efforts to limit access to abortion and reproductive health care.”