For twelve years, Cecile Richards, daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards, has been one of the most well-recognized faces in the fight for reproductive rights and healthcare access. Under her leadership, Planned Parenthood’s signature pink logo and branding–Care. No Matter What.–became icons of the women’s movement and the Left more broadly. Vogue Magazine called her a “heroine of the resistance.” Richards herself, in her book, Make Trouble, gave credit to her principled, spirited fighter of a mother for inspiring her own fighting spirit.
In early 2018, Richards announced her retirement, and on September 12, Planned Parenthood announced her replacement, Leana S. Wen, currently Health Commissioner for the City of Baltimore. Like Richards, Wen has been a fierce public advocate for women’s healthcare. Unlike Richards, she is a physician with deep roots in healthcare administration and service. In Baltimore, Wen oversees 23 clinics that provide women’s health services.
Wen’s life story is one of talent, hard work, and engaged citizenship—the archetypal American dream. She moved to the U.S. with her parents at age seven from Shanghai. By age 18, she had graduated from Cal State Los Angeles. She went on to receive a master’s degree as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford before attending medical school at Washington University in St. Louis. As President of the American Medical Students Association, she led a campaign focused on improving healthcare access. She practiced emergency medicine at Mass General and Brigham and Women’s Hospital before moving into a research position and then her current role as Baltimore’s Health Commissioner. One of her passions is the need for doctors to listen to their patients (TED talk here.)
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Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org. Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including The Huffington Post, Salon, The Independent, Free Inquiry, The Humanist, AlterNet, Raw Story, Grist, Jezebel, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.