A new era

Cecile Richards steps down as president of Planned Parenthood, but hails the rise of women’s activism

Cecile Richards (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Cecile Richards officially stepped down as president of Planned Parenthood this week, ushering in a new era for the organization after Richards helped the women’s health provider weather on onslaught of attacks from anti-abortion conservatives for more than 12 years, a career her daughter, Lily Adams paid tribute to with a post on Twitter.

Speaking with The Associated Press, Richards said that a growing women’s rights movement in the U.S. that has seen a surge in women running for political office, mass-organized protests such as the Women’s March and culture-shifting social media efforts like the #MeToo movement, made it easier for her to feel comfortable finally passing on the torch of leadership for Planned Parenthood.

“We are stronger than we were before the election [of Donald Trump], in terms of membership and support … Every time we’re in the crosshairs of Congress or some politician, that’s when people begin to focus, and support grows,” Richards said of the organization.

The only way to truly protect women’s health, she added, was for women to turn out to vote — and to run for office.

“This is about more than electing a new president. I think we are seeing this really retrograde sort of last gasp, holding onto a society where women are, frankly, second class, and that has created this inverse reaction, not only from young women (but all ages). I think there’s a recognition among women in this country that there are people trying to take us backward, and we’re not going,” she explained.

Asked whether she planned on running for office herself, however, Richards played coy.

“That’s been a common question. Partly because there is, I hope, a growing understanding that marching and rallying and all this is great, but electing more women to office is absolutely essential,” she replied. “So I think they’re just fitting me into that framework, but actually the exciting thing is that so many women we’re running into ARE running for office. It’s quite amazing.”

Richards also elaborated on a “surreal” meeting she had with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, in which she said Ivanka mostly remained silent as Kushner dominated a conversation in which he allegedly attempted to “bribe” her into having Planned Parenthood stop providing abortion services.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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