“Vaccination isn’t just an individual decision, but one that affects the health of others – including those already vaccinated,” wrote the former CEO of Planned Parenthood in a column at the Washington Post Tuesday.
— Washington Post Opinions (@PostOpinions) July 6, 2021
Dr. Leana Wen, who also once served as Baltimore’s health commissioner, scolded President Joe Biden for missing “an important opportunity” – a White House event on Independence Day – to mandate COVID vaccinations for all attendees.
Wen criticized Biden’s COVID-19 Coordinator, Jeff Zients, who referred to vaccination as an “individual choice” while appearing on CNN:
This feeds into a “live and let live” attitude that has been used to question why someone should care about another person’s vaccination status. After all, if vaccines protect the person receiving it, then why should they care if others choose not to have it?
Wen said she is concerned about young children, such as her own, who are not yet eligible to receive COVID vaccines, but could come into contact with unvaccinated people.
There's a pervasive narrative that kids aren't at risk from #covid19, and that with declining infection rates, authorizing vaccines for younger children is no longer a priority.
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) June 15, 2021
She then appeared to focus on her primary concern for vaccinated individuals:
If everyone around them is also vaccinated, the chance of them being infected and then contracting covid-19 is virtually nil. On the other hand, if they’re in multiple settings every day where they are constantly surrounded by unvaccinated people, the risk of getting infected increases. Risk is additive, so the more unvaccinated people they’re exposed to, and the higher the rate of coronavirus in their community, the higher the risk.
However, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said last week that vaccinated Americans are “safe” from even the coronavirus variants.
“If you are vaccinated, you are safe from the variants that are circulating here in the United States,” Walensky said during an appearance on Today.
After stating “risk is additive,” Wen then went on to defend the COVID vaccines:
This is no way refutes the effectiveness of covid-19 vaccines. All three U.S.-authorized vaccines are extremely protective against severe disease. More than 99 percent of people dying from covid-19 are unvaccinated. That’s testament to the extraordinary power of the vaccines.
In yet another turn, Wen resumed her apparent anxiety over the effectiveness of the vaccines:
Even the best vaccine doesn’t work 100 percent of the time. Think of the covid-19 vaccine as a very good raincoat. If it’s drizzling, it will probably protect you. But if you go from thunderstorm to thunderstorm, at some point you will get wet. Wearing a mask in crowded indoor settings, as health officials in Los Angeles and St. Louis have advised, is an additional protective measure that could help.
Wen dismissed Biden’s announcement that he is sending officials out “literally knocking on doors to get help to the remaining people,” as he attempts to get more Americans vaccinated.
“That’s not nearly enough,” she asserted. “Biden needs to get behind proof of vaccination, starting with his own White House events. A gathering touting the United States’ progress toward independence from the virus should have been the ideal opportunity to make the case for vaccine requirements.”
“It matters for everyone, including the vaccinated,” Wen said.
As CEO of Planned Parenthood, Wen was often accused of making claims that had already been debunked.
In 2019, for example, in an effort to boost support for the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, Wen made the claim, “Thousands of women died before Roe v. Wade.”
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) May 20, 2019
Planned Parenthood’s own fact sheets told a very different story, however:
In 1965, when abortion was still illegal nationwide except in cases of life endangerment, at least 193 women died from illegal abortions, and illegal abortion accounted for nearly 17 percent of all deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth in that year (Gold, 1990; NCHS, 1967).
The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute also reported:
By 1950, illegal abortion deaths fell to “just over 300,” likely “because of the introduction of antibiotics in 1940s, which permitted more effective treatment of the infections frequently developed after illegal abortion.”
By 1965, “the number of deaths due to illegal abortion had fallen to just under 200.”
According to the CDC, in 1972, the year before the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe, 24 women died from legal induced abortion – legal in a handful of states in which abortion in some very limited cases was permitted – and 39 women died from illegal abortion.
Wen also repeated the claim that maternal mortality rates (MMR) increased in Texas after Planned Parenthood was defunded.
“We know what happens when our health centers are forced to close around the country,” Wen told NowThisNews. “In Texas, 30,000 women went without access to care. Maternal mortality rates increased.”
The Washington Post, however, published a fact-check with the headline, “No, maternal mortality did not spike in Texas after funding cuts to abortion clinics.”
As the Post’s Glenn Kessler explained, a flawed study on MMR in Texas had generated the claim, one that was published in the peer-reviewed journal Obstetrics and Gynecology (ObGyn).
The Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force found errors in the original study and corrected the 2012 data from 38.4 deaths per 100,000 live births to 14.6 per 100,000 live births.
Ryan Bomberger, chief creative officer at the Radiance Foundation, noted that while Planned Parenthood was still receiving taxpayer funds in Texas, MMR even tripled among black women.
Wen also made the debunked claim that late-term abortions should remain legal because they “result from a diagnosis of severe fetal abnormalities, or serious risks to the woman’s health.”
90% of abortions occur before 21 weeks. As a doctor & public health expert, I can tell you that those that occur later often result from a diagnosis of severe fetal abnormalities, or serious risks to the woman's health.
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) February 6, 2019
Abortionists themselves, however, admit Wen’s claim is not true.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, admitted in 1997 partial-birth abortions were not that rare.
"The majority of these procedures [late-term abortions] are performed… on healthy women and healthy fetuses." – Ron Fitzsimmons, Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers https://t.co/S8IiG32gr9
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) February 6, 2019
“The abortion rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it and so, probably, does everyone else,” he said, admitting that he “lied through [his] teeth” during a Nightline interview when he said partial-birth abortions were rarely performed and only due to fetal anomalies and serious health risks to the mother.
Additionally, a study released in 2013 by Guttmacher found that women who were seeking both first-trimester and late-term abortions provided the same reasons for delaying the procedure, including “not knowing about the pregnancy,” “trouble deciding about the abortion,” and “disagreeing about the abortion with the man involved.”
The study concluded that “most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment,” a direct contradiction to Wen’s claim.