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Dawn Laguens Stepping Down at Planned Parenthood

Dawn Laguens

Laguens, a lesbian who has been with the group eight years and its public face since this spring, says she'll stay close to the movement for inclusive health care.

Dawn Laguens, the lesbian who has been the public face of Planned Parenthood since Cecile Richards left as president of the organization in the spring, will leave her position in December.

Laguens, executive vice president of the family planning group, will step down December 19, she said in an email to supporters and the media.

"It has been a remarkable journey helping lead Planned Parenthood and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund [the organization's political action branch] through both opportunities and more than a few challenges!" she wrote in the email.

Those challenges have included fighting attempts to restrict access to contraception and abortion at the state and federal levels, including the antichoice activism of Donald Trump's administration.

"Planned Parenthood is happy ... to be taking on the fight, and to be standing up against some of these outrageous attacks that we see," Laguens told The Advocate in May. She has also stood up for the group's other services, including HIV prevention, hormone therapy, and general sexual and reproductive health care, all delivered without discrimination regarding gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Richards recruited Laguens to Planned Parenthood with a call on Christmas Day, 2010, HuffPost reports. The first midterm election during President Barack Obama's administration had resulted in Republican gains in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Mike Pence, then a member, was proposing a bill to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding. Richards said she needed help from Laguens, who then had a Democratic political consulting firm, to fight the Pence Amendment.

The measure was defeated, and Planned Parenthood went on to fight many other battles, including the public relations war with a right-wing group that released doctored videos making it appear the organization was profiting from the sale of fetal parts -- something that was eventually debunked.

HuffPost sums up some of Laguens's other accomplishments:

Laguens, a longtime Democratic political consultant who led the campaign against former KKK leader David Duke when he ran for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, has helped grow Planned Parenthood from 2 million members to 12 million. She modernized the organization and attracted a new generation to the reproductive rights movement with a period tracker app, a new brand, look and logo, and the award-winning virtual reality film "Across the Line" about the personal experience of getting access to abortion. She developed the group's powerful political advocacy arm, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and built partnerships with other progressive organizations. Since 2010, she has helped fend off 21 attempts by Congress to defund the health care provider.

Laguens said defeating those attempts is her proudest accomplishment at Planned Parenthood, where Leana Wen is succeeding Richards as president this month. Laguens is leaving after a midterm election that produced a far different result than the one that brought her to the organization -- control of the House has flipped from Republican to Democratic.

"We've won these elections, and it's a great moment to make a switch and think about how I can tackle some of these challenges that new technologies can be applied to," she told HuffPost, noting that she will take some time off to spend with her partner and their triplets. "But I'll stay close to the fight -- I can't imagine that I will go far away from it. It's close to my heart."

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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