Transformative

Under Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood is going on the offensive

Cecile Richards and Alicia Menendez. (Marc Bryan-Brown/Women in the World)

A new profile by The Washington Post details the ways in which Cecile Richards, current head of Planned Parenthood, has embraced a bolder strategy for the organization, taking its support for abortion rights on the offensive. With controversial moves, such as openly endorsing Hillary Clinton (whose campaign platform is asking for full Medicaid funding for abortions) and encouraging women to share personal abortion stories, Planned Parenthood is taking more of a public stance than ever. Talking to both supporters and critics of Richards, the Post draws a portrait of a woman who is as reviled as she is loved — receiving both standing ovations and death threats — but who has undoubtedly “transformed” her organization.

Rep. Gwen Moore, a Wisconsin Democrat told the newspaper that Richards “turned it into the kind of political machine that has been necessary to not only fight back the bad policy positions, but to actually raise money.” Terry McGovern, a close friend of Richards and professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health also defended her offensive stance, telling the Post that “at a certain point, if you’re seeing all these really ridiculous, untenable positions that women are put in, you get to a point where you have to stop being defensive. Enough. Her leadership has certainly evolved around that realization.”

Critics from the pro-life movement, however, see it differently. Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee describes Richards as “the puppetmaster for Democrats in Congress” and claims that it is obvious she wants to “influence a President Clinton and control the Supreme Court.” And while her supporters might praise her for removing the stigma from abortion and making it safer, Tobias believes this is “an effort to make abortion acceptable in society, and I just don’t see it working,” she said. “They’re not influencing women in America in general.” Richards herself remains adamant. “There are still enormous barriers to women who need access to safe and legal abortion,” she told the Post. “We need to challenge or repeal every single restriction that’s out there. The fight goes on.”

Back in April, Richards appeared onstage at the Women in the World New York Summit. Watch her complete discussion with Alicia Menendez below:


Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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