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Cecile Richards on Her Life After Planned Parenthood

“As a lifetime organizer, I’ve never been more excited, despite this Congress and this presidency,” she stated within the first interview through which she confirmed and mentioned her departure. “There’s this kind of organic activism by women.”

Video by Planned Parenthood

Her chorus that Planned Parenthood is apolitical will strike some as laughable. Depending on whom you ask, the elegant 60-year-old is a nationwide “hero” or a “deeply evil woman” and “mass murderer.”

Ms. Richards, the elder daughter of Ann Richards, the previous governor of Texas who died in 2006, turned a family identify in 2015, when an anti-abortion group launched a number of secretly recorded movies of abortion suppliers discussing promoting fetal tissue to researchers. Ms. Richards testified to congressional Republicans who needed to strip the group of its estimated $450 million in annual federal funding.

“She has really helped put a face on the position,” stated Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, including that Ms. Richards was “unfazed by the horrendous, awful, negative attacks.”


Ms. Richards testifying earlier than the House Government Oversight committee about funding for Planned Parenthood.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

On the opposite, Ms. Richards appeared to relish her position because the consummate rabble-rouser to Republicans. She was virtually giddy relaying the time she visited a Planned Parenthood clinic in Kenosha, Wis., within the district represented by Paul D. Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House.

But the work, and her visibility, had a darkish aspect. Death threats to abortion suppliers, blockades, fires and protests at Planned Parenthood clinics — already hotbeds of political unrest — elevated after the movies, and picketing ticked up fourfold, to 21,715 reported incidents in 2015, according to a study by the National Abortion Federation, a Washington-based affiliation of abortion suppliers.

Ms. Richards, who together with her signature hot-pink fits stood out from most Washington energy brokers, wouldn’t speak concerning the threats she acquired.

“For every person who has come up and said something tacky — as Mom would say — there are literally hundreds of women who have stopped me in the subway, on the street, in an airport to say, ‘thank you,’” she stated.

She will meet with the Planned Parenthood board at its annual assembly on Friday and Saturday to debate the timing of her departure and what’s anticipated be a large search to switch her.


Cecile Richards and Hillary Clinton on the Planned Parenthood 100th Anniversary Gala in 2017.

Krista Schlueter for The New York Times

Many conservatives are celebrating the top of her reign. “Cecile Richards Leaves Behind Brutal Legacy,” read a headline in The Blaze. The story estimated the group had carried out 328,384 abortions in 2016. Planned Parenthood disputed these figures, including that the group served 2.four million sufferers that yr, largely for bodily exams, breast exams and the remedy of sexually transmitted infections.

Previously deputy chief of employees to Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, Ms. Richards sought to rework Planned Parenthood when she was named president in 2006. The group’s base of volunteers and supporters has grown considerably — from 2.5 million to 11 million — and it has added 700,000 new donors, because the 2016 election, the very best quantity ever for such a time interval.

But Ms. Richards, who lives in New York City, additionally turned a frequent presence in glitzy fund-raising circles, profitable over billionaire donors who might have shied away from publicly supporting abortion rights up to now.

“Planned Parenthood is vital, and under Cecile’s leadership it has been dynamic, strategic and most importantly effective,” Michael R. Bloomberg, the previous mayor of New York and a serious supporter, said in an email.

Ms. Richards stated she is most pleased with securing free birth-control protection for each lady with health insurance coverage (72 million), the traditionally low teen-pregnancy fee and a 30-year low for unintended pregnancies general.

She appeared extra reserved about utilizing the phrase abortion, masterfully pivoting to phrases like “women’s health” and “reproductive medicine” when a reporter introduced them up.

Ms. Richards does see progress in the best way abortion is depicted in widespread tradition, with Kerry Washington’s attractive Washington fixer Olivia Pope on the hit drama “Scandal” present process the process and articles in Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Essence discussing the difficulty.

“It’s about changing our culture and talking about topics that I thought had been shoved to the side and taboo,” she stated.

Certainly the channels of dialog have multiplied exponentially since Ms. Richards first volunteered on Sarah Weddington’s 1972 marketing campaign to the Texas House of Representatives, an election that unfurled as Ms. Weddington represented “Jane Roe” within the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide.

At 32, with twins on the best way and a child in tow, Ms. Richards later took on operating her mom’s long-shot 1990 marketing campaign for governor.

If the elder Ms. Richards, a divorced recovering alcoholic Democrat, might get elected governor of Texas, and wind up being one of many state’s most beloved leaders, her daughter figures she will persuade different women that they, too, have an opportunity. “She was never a sure thing in anything she did,” Ms. Richards stated.

Raising the inevitable query: Does Ms. Richards plan to run?

After information of Ms. Richards’s departure turned public, tweets (principally from women) erupted like popcorn: “Hopefully to run for office!” one learn. And one other: “Please run for Texas governor, please run for Texas governor, please run for Texas governor.”

Ms. Richards’s reply is emphatic (if not solely convincing).

“I’m not thinking of running for anything,” she stated.

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