Cecile Richards Explains What Planned Parenthood Actually Does

In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that banning abortion is unconstitutional. Yet despite being legalized, a woman's right to choose has possibly never been more threatened in this nation. Or at least this is what President of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards has found, especially in the light of various attacks on and misconceptions spread about the organization this year, she told Katie Couric in a Yahoo! News interview published last Tuesday.

Planned Parenthood has been attacked for years, but recently faced a particularly invective series of sting videos claiming the organization sold and profited from the tissue of aborted fetuses. Conservative politicians subsequently threatened to de-fund the organization, which in turn forced Richards to testify before a (particularly demeaning) House Oversight Committee.

But those videos are false and created by "extremists who want to end access to all reproductive health care in America," and who "spent three years doing everything they could to create misleading, smear videos and spliced it to make it look as damaging as possible," Richards asserted.

While Planned Parenthood has participated in donating fetal tissue for the purpose of research, the organization has "always complied with the law, and in fact gone above what's required by the law" and participation has never been about reimbursement but about "the wishes of the woman to donate fetal tissue," Richards said. What's more, research made possible by fetal tissue donations has previously led to the polio vaccine and currently contributes to research related to diseases like Parkinson's, according to US News & World Report.

De-funding the organization based on claims made in this video would not only be unfounded, therefore, but damaging to women's health in a variety of other ways. Just like other healthcare providers and hospitals in this nation, Planned Parenthood is reimbursed for the services they offer — they don't receive unnecessarily abundant funds — and federal funding does not apply to abortion services, Richards said.

"The vast majority of federal reimbursement is for cancer screenings, birth control, well-woman visits — that's what's really affected," Richards underscored.

And yet, these misconceptions result in very real stigma and threats.

"I would say anyone who is working in the area of reproductive rights has gotten threats," Richards said — threats that are undoubtedly compounded by the deeply ingrained social norm that women should remain silent about their reproductive experiences.

But while attacks on the organization may persist, it seems at least some attitudes in this nation are changing. In fact, the accessibility and community facilitated by social media even encouraged Richards to share her own abortion story.

"Almost one in three women in this country have had an abortion at some point in their lives," Richard noted. "We need to end the shame surrounding this procedure."

Social media is just a reflection of a broader reality: public opinion sides with a woman's right to choose.

"Support for safe and legal abortion has been consistent throughout time," Richards asserted. "At the end of the day people can separate their own personal feelings from saying 'I can't make that decision for every other woman in America.'"

More articles by Category: Feminism, Health, Politics
More articles by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Reproductive rights, Planned Parenthood, Abortion



Julie Zeilinger
Founding Editor of The WMC FBomb
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