Planned Parenthood Elevates Interim CEO Alexis McGill Johnson To Permanent Status

Marlena Sloss, The Washington Post via Getty Images

Alexis McGill Johnson is now the permanent president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, after serving in the role on an interim basis. She is seen here at a rally against white supremacy in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., last summer.

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. She took over the position following the abrupt removal of its former president, Leana Wen, 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.”

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit