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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 22, 2016

 
Cecile Richards, American hero

by digby















The American Prospect has published an excellent profile by Rachel Cohen of Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards on this anniversary of Roe vs Wade. She's an amazing woman at the center of a maelstrom that would break down lesser humans. An excerpt:
In 2016, the battle over reproductive rights will almost surely grow more intense. The Supreme Court is set to rule on two major cases: one concerning contraception coverage, and the other on abortion access. The latter, both sides agree, may be the most consequential case for abortion rights since 1992, when the high court ruled that states could not impose an “undue burden” on women who wish to end a pregnancy. State legislatures, which enacted 288 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2015, will no doubt continue to test the limits of what such “undue burdens” really mean.

2016 also marks the centennial anniversary of Planned Parenthood, an organization that has become the target of an anti-abortion movement that steadily grows more aggressive and violent. The FBI reported an increase in the number of arson attacks and vandalism incidents at abortion clinics in the wake of the Center for Medical Progress videos, and the president of the National Abortion Federation said abortion providers have seen “an unprecedented increase in hate speech and threats” since the videos were released. In late November, a man opened fire in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, injuring nine people, and killing three. After the shooting, the suspected gunman invoked the doctored videos, telling local authorities, “no more baby parts.”

Richards, who has spent a decade at Planned Parenthood’s helm, toils at ground zero of the culture wars being fought across the country. Every day she is flooded with hundreds of hateful messages on social media, calling her evil, a Nazi, a monster, a murderer. In 2006, Jim Sedlak, the vice president of American Life League and one of the nation’s most ardent Planned Parenthood critics, predicted she would never last more than a year or so as Planned Parenthood’s leader. (A mere “place holder” president, he dubbed her.)

Yet ten years later, Richards remains self-assured in her post, guiding the nation’s largest reproductive-rights organization through the most politically fraught period it’s ever faced. She comes well-suited for the challenge. Richards brings to her role decades of experience in political organizing, and a career as a premier coalition builder across liberal America. She brings as well a strategic and moral vision that has impelled her to push Planned Parenthood beyond where it’s been, to lead more forcefully in the broader cultural and economic battles for women’s autonomy and equality.

More about Richards at the link.

I realize that this is not at the top of every progressive's list of important issues. But it probably ranks in the top ten for most. If that's the case, they should all be happy that someone with Richards' strategic intelligence, integrity, determination and backbone is at the helm of the institution that's in the crosshairs of these zealots. I don't think I could handle it and I doubt most people could.

She made Planned Parenthood an explicitly political institution because she was smart enough to see that if she didn't it wouldn't survive. There was, after all, a time not too long ago when some Democrats were saying that compromise on women's rights was on the menu because they needed to attract the evangelical voters. That is no longer the case. And Richards is largely responsible because she understood that the Republicans had purged their pro-choice membership and this was going to be a partisan battle. And that battle is far from over.


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