HomeoldThe conclusion of the Planned Parenthood presidency of Cecile Richards is presented...

The conclusion of the Planned Parenthood presidency of Cecile Richards is presented below

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The Richards Made Group has emerged as a significant player in Democratic Party politics

The hiring of Cecile Richards by Planned Parenthood, a person without any medical training and one who had never previously managed an affiliate, was a strategic decision that was likely informed by a clear understanding of the organization’s needs and goals.

Richards had a lengthy background in political activism, rather than in “reproductive healthcare.” This was a key factor in his selection by Planned Parenthood.

Twelve years later, Planned Parenthood has evolved from being the nation’s largest abortion provider to becoming a significant player in the nation’s abortion politics, largely due to the influence of Richards.

A partisan political background

Cecile Richards, daughter of former Texas governor Anne Richards, learned the value of political activism from her mother’s example. Their first joint political campaign was in 1972 on behalf of Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who represented “Jane Roe” (Norma McCorvey) in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

Weddington ran for the Texas State House and won.

Following her graduation from college, Richards commenced employment as a union organizer in California on behalf of a collective known as “Justice for Janitors” during the 1980s. Subsequently, she assisted her mother in her electoral campaign, subsequently founding the Texas Freedom Network in 1995 with the objective of countering the influence of the “religious right” through the engagement of clergy and community leaders.

In 2000, Ms. Smith created and directed Pro-Choice Vote, a voter ID project for the Turner Foundation. In 2002, she became a deputy chief of staff for pro-abortion Congressional Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.).

In 2003, Richards established and led America Votes, a coalition of groups that collectively invested over $350 million in political activities during the 2004 election cycle.

This is the resume that Planned Parenthood saw when they hired Richards. It included experience in high-level political contacts, years of experience running political campaigns, and an ability to raise a significant amount of money in a short period of time.

A fiery launch

In June of 2006, just months into her tenure as president of Planned Parenthood, Richards delivered a rousing address at the “Take Back America” conference. She highlighted the organization’s extensive reach, with 860 health centers in 50 states.

We have the potential to swing the vote in 2006, 2008 and 2010, and that’s a lot of power. The question is, What are we going to do with it? And the answer is, We’re going to use it. We’re going to marry our current reality as the largest reproductive healthcare provider in this country with our opportunity to be the largest kicka** advocacy organization in the country…. We’re taking on the opponents of choice in the states and the districts where they live. Planned Parenthood is going to become more political so that healthcare can become less politicized.

Richards went on to highlight that Planned Parenthood had a larger membership, employee base, and staff than the combined total of the 50 state Democratic parties.

It is evident that the objective is to transform healthcare employees into political activists.

Pushing politics at Planned Parenthood

While Planned Parenthood had previously engaged in political activities, Richards significantly elevated PPFA’s involvement in the political arena.

It is challenging to obtain clear records, but it appears that Planned Parenthood’s Political Action Committee (PAC) spent several hundred thousand dollars to assist in the election of pro-abortion governors, congressional representatives, and senators in 2006, during Richards’ first year at the helm. We know that by 2008, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which Richards also heads, was spending close to $11 million.

In the 2012 elections, the total amount spent was approximately $22.4 million (The Center for Responsive Politics, at www.opensecrets.org).

Not satisfied with the limitations on federal political action committees, Richards initiated the super PAC “Planned Parenthood Votes” in 2010, which serves a distinct political function. A “super PAC” is not permitted to make direct contributions to a candidate or political party; however, it is permitted to raise and expend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for or against specific politicians or political causes independently.

The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) has estimated that Planned Parenthood Votes spent $21.6 million in the 2016 election. According to CRP records, the majority of Planned Parenthood’s political activity appears to have shifted towards the super PAC. However, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund still reported over $1.4 million of its own in independent expenditures for 2016, none of which went towards Republican candidates.

Richards has ensured that financial contributions are not the sole means by which Planned Parenthood has engaged in political activities.

Richards was a distinctive orator at each Democratic National Convention since her inauguration. She twice declared Planned Parenthood’s endorsement of Barack Obama and then of Hillary Clinton.

Planned Parenthood employed a multifaceted approach to disseminate information about the potential implications of Republican candidates’ intentions to overturn Roe v. Wade and restrict a woman’s “right to choose.” This included the use of advertising, telephone calls, mailings, and the recruitment of volunteers to conduct door-to-door canvassing, all with the objective of registering and mobilizing voters who were sympathetic to their cause.

Richards was among the first to recognize the potential of social media as a tool for political activism. Planned Parenthood created websites dedicated to monitoring and debunking the candidacies of Republican presidential nominees John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Donald Trump. They disseminated content in support of their preferred candidates and against those they opposed on Facebook, and conducted Twitter campaigns to match.

The use of social media by Planned Parenthood contributed to its status as a significant driving force and featured player at the large Women’s March that coincided with the Trump inauguration. Richards was instrumental in enhancing Planned Parenthood’s political engagement. However, the most sophisticated advertising and public relations strategies cannot conceal the fact that Planned Parenthood is primarily responsible for the termination of approximately 320,000 unborn lives annually. This is a significant and challenging issue that is difficult to overcome.

Planned Parenthood & ObamaCare

During Richards’ tenure, Planned Parenthood continued to advocate for abortion at all levels, promoting pro-abortion legislation, challenging laws they deemed unfavorable in the courts, and electing politicians who would ensure the organization’s continued receipt of taxpayer funding.

However, one of the most significant areas where Richards and Planned Parenthood exerted influence was as a driving force behind the implementation of “health care reform,” colloquially known as Obamacare.

Richards and Planned Parenthood established a relationship with Barack Obama at an early stage of his political career, when he was still a junior senator from Illinois. They endorsed his candidacy and assisted him in winning the 2008 presidential election.

… [Obama] returned the favor in conference calls. White House meeting invitations and a promise to veto the budget bill if it defunded Planned Parenthood. (“The Genius of Cecile Richards,” The Nation, 3/26/12)

The point was made clear that Richards and Planned Parenthood would be involved in the White House and would play a significant role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

In March of 2009, Richards was among those invited to the White House summit on health care reform. At this event, she advocated for the inclusion of clinics such as Planned Parenthood’s in any future reform efforts.

Richards played a pivotal role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare. She advocated for the passage of the president’s healthcare reform program in Congress. Once enacted, Planned Parenthood, a prominent provider of reproductive health services, prominently featured the ACA on its website and designated several affiliates as official “navigators,” tasked with assisting individuals in navigating the complex landscape of health insurance options.

In addition to serving as a cunning strategy for increasing foot traffic to Planned Parenthood clinics, it was a method for ensuring that patients selected plans that included abortion and other services available at the clinic.

Since the election of President Trump and the subsequent Republican majorities in the House and Senate, Richards and Planned Parenthood have been at the forefront of opposition to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and any potential threats to the organization’s government funding.

As previously discussed in NRL News Today, the number of cancer screenings and contraceptive services provided by Planned Parenthood has declined in recent years, coinciding with the organization’s reduction in the number of clinics and realignment of its marketing priorities. Nevertheless, Richards and her organization persist in utilizing these arguments to justify the maintenance of government funding.

It is evident that the termination of abortion services and the allocation of resources towards cancer screening would result in the saving of hundreds of thousands of lives. However, this is not the objective of Richards and Planned Parenthood.

Richards and “The Videos”

If there was any instance in which Richards demonstrated her value to Planned Parenthood, it was in her handling of the embarrassing undercover videos that showed several of her top employees negotiating the compensation for aborted baby body parts, including eyes, livers, and brains. While Richards called the exposed incidents “unacceptable” and personally apologized for her staffers’ “tone and statements,” she did not admit any basic wrongdoing, legal or otherwise.

The response of Richards and Planned Parenthood was to claim that the videos gave a false impression and were “heavily edited.” This assertion was widely disseminated by the media.

The media disseminated a narrative that while some of the language used may have been inappropriate, the underlying business practices were not. Prolife activists had deceptively assembled a series of clinical discussions to portray them as something sinister. The majority of individuals, including the majority of reporters, accepted Richards’s account without independently verifying the videos. They accepted Planned Parenthood’s assertion that they, rather than the unborn children they terminated and dismembered, were the true victims.

Members of Congress viewed the videos and perceived Planned Parenthood as a remunerated supplier of a lucrative and legally questionable fetal tissue and stem cell industry with ties to some of America’s top universities that required further investigation and potential legal action.

When called to testify before Congress, Richards skillfully deflected and filibustered when asked to defend or explain her group’s conduct. She accepted that the “tone” of some of her employees may have been unfortunate but asserted that the outrageous accusations leveled against Planned Parenthood based on heavily doctored videos were offensive and categorically untrue.

Richards asserted that the videos were the result of a “deliberate and systematic effort” by opponents of safe and legal abortion to “infiltrate” health centers, “entrap” staff into “potentially illegal conduct,” and create “discredited, doctored videos” designed to “smear” Planned Parenthood (CNN, 9/30/2015).

Richards acknowledged that a few of its clinics had provided fetal tissue, but characterized this as assistance to researchers seeking cures for diseases. In a statement to members of Congress, Richards asserted that Planned Parenthood was proud of its limited role in supporting fetal tissue research.

Richards was unable to provide an accurate estimation of the annual revenue generated by Planned Parenthood from abortion services. When Republican members of Congress questioned Richards about her salary and the group’s high expenditure, Democrats intervened to defend her, accusing her critics of being disrespectful, misogynistic, and part of the “war on women.”

Although Congress recommended and some state attorneys general considered potential legal action against Planned Parenthood, no charges have been filed against the organization or its employees. However, the Justice Department is reportedly investigating the matter.

The most successful aspect of Richards’ defense strategy has been to persuade the press and the general public to refrain from even considering the evidence of barbarity presented in the video tapes.

Looking at the future

At this juncture, there has been minimal discourse regarding the rationale behind Richards’ departure from Planned Parenthood and her prospective endeavors. Nevertheless, there are a few individuals who have encouraged her to pursue a political career, particularly in the gubernatorial position in Texas (Yahoo News, 1/26/18).

Given her aptitude for navigating the political landscape, her proficiency in handling the press, her extensive network and experience, and her capacity to amass substantial financial resources, she would undoubtedly be a formidable contender.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Richards stated that she is not currently considering running for any political office. However, she did acknowledge in a subsequent statement that she has been an active advocate throughout her life and intends to remain engaged in women’s issues and progressive politics.

Additionally, a memoir, titled Make Trouble, is scheduled for release in April. This book will serve as Richards’s personal account of her experiences and insights.

It can be reasonably assumed that the search for a successor to Cecile Richards at Planned Parenthood has commenced in earnest. This is due to the fact that there is currently no apparent successor. It is unclear whether the individual who assumes the role will have a background within the organization, whether they will be a politician or political activist, or whether they will be an abortionist. However, it is evident that it will be challenging to match Cecile Richards’s political acumen.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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