Cecile Richards joins Greater Boston host Jim Braude.

Credit: WGBH News

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards On Women’s Rights And The Future of Abortion Access

April 11, 2018

“Anyone who’s not worried about Roe isn’t paying attention honestly,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade when she joined Jim Braude on Greater Boston. “For progressives, that is why all this organizing up to this date has been so critical,” she added, noting that the mostly white, male federal judges President Donald Trump has been putting on the bench have included “some of the most extreme, some of the most unqualified [people] … and it’s a real danger for the future.”
 
Still, Richards is hopeful.  
 
“This is a long haul fight,” she said. “We didn’t ever earn our rights because of, like, just a magical moment. It is because people never gave up. So, the Supreme Court’s going to be a critical battle. I think folks are geared up for that and ready for that.”
 
Richards, who after more than a decade as president of Planned Parenthood plans to leave this year, told Braude she has confidence the organization is strong enough to face whatever threats may come from the Trump administration or, potentially, the courts. Within the last year, she said, Planned Parenthood and its supporters have been successful in staving off a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and federal funding to the organization.
 
In her new memoir "Making Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead," Richards recounts a meeting invitation that the president’s daughter and son-in-law extended to her in early 2017.
 
“I thought ‘well, what do I have to lose?’” Richards said, explaining that she hoped to educate Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner about what Planned Parenthood does.
 
“It turned out really the purpose was to try to make a deal … that in exchange for us no longer providing abortion access to our patients, he can help guarantee funding," Richards said. 
 
Richards said she thinks the move was more about landing a “political victory.” She added that she thinks the administration was anxious over defunding the organization after seeing hundreds of thousands turn out for women's marches across the country.
 
“I thought maybe he thought we were so desperate for the funding that we would abandon women and I just said, ‘That’s not who we are. That’s not what we’ll do,’” she said of Kushner.  
 
A Texas native, Richards is the daughter of the late former Texas governor Ann Richards. She said her mother would be excited to see the number of women running for office today.
 
“One of my mottos now is start before you’re ready, and that’s what I think people are doing. But we have a lot of ground to make up,” she told Braude. “I think women, interestingly, I would say right now, women are the most important political force in the country.”
 
To watch Richards' interview in its entirety, click on the video player above.


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