After 14 years as president of Planned Parenthood, Faye Wattleton is resigning. That leaves a tremendous void, at a time when Planned Parenthood is under attack by a Supreme Court increasingly hostile to reproductive rights and by the administration's gag rule, which withholds federal money to any clinic that even mentions the "A" word. Yet abortion comprises a small percentage of Planned Parenthood's work: In 1990, 130,000 women got abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics but more than 3 million received prenatal care, birth control and pregnancy testing. Today, largely because of Wattleton's savvy and commitment, more than 4 million women are served.
Wattleton has set the right tone in her tenure at Planned Parenthood, making it a champion of reproductive rights and mobilizing grass-roots support. Faye Wattleton is indeed a hard act to follow. But she has left a blueprint of dedication and activism which, if her successor uses it as a guide, will continue to make Planned Parenthood a leader in the fight for reproductive freedom.