Cecile Richards, longtime president of Planned Parenthood, recently debuted her autobiography, Make Trouble, on the heels of an announcement that she is stepping down from Planned Parenthood. In the book, Richards recounts what it was like to be raised by progressive activists and how she tried to raise her own children with the same values. Richards offers some core parenting advice and observations that ring relatable to me and, likely to most parents regardless of background or ideology. But for those acquainted with Richards in her day job, the emphasis on parenting was rather surprising.
In the book, Richards’ prose about her love for her own children and joy in being a parent highlights the contradiction that is her persona as head of Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion vendor. According to the organization’s own annual report, it ends 321,384 lives each year through what it calls “abortion services.” Under Richards’ leadership, the organization ended the lives of more than three million children and increased its market share of abortion by more than 10%. Richards has said that for her abortion is non-negotiable, suggesting a staggering cognitive dissonance between her words about the wonders of parenting and the fact that she champions a worldview in which children are disposable.
Worldviews aside, however, Richards and I are alike in many practical ways. We are both passionate activists and working mothers. Richards’ experiences of juggling motherhood and career parallel my own, and several of her comments and observations about parenting were particularly relatable.
In her section on how raising children is a “team sport,” for example, Richards talks about the importance of having a support system when raising children. My husband, Jonathan, is a full-time parent to our four children — two of whom have cystic fibrosis. Without Jonathan on my team, I would not be able to fulfill my mission as an activist. I have spent my career advocating for increased support for struggling parents because it is a lack of support that often drives desperate women to organizations like Planned Parenthood.
Richards’ comments on the reward of seeing generational progress through your kids’ eyes also resonated with me. Richards described how her children have followed in her activist footsteps, taking on the worlds of politics and organizing in their own rights. My eldest son, 9-year-old Gunner, has already begun to follow in my footsteps. Just a few weeks ago Gunner told me about his dreams for the future of the pro-life movement and his plan to end Planned Parenthood’s abortion business, and I was so proud to see the way he owns his convictions.
I can empathize with Richards pride in being a champion of disenfranchised people. She spent years as a labor organizer prior to taking charge of Planned Parenthood. Her desire to help victims of injustice is admirable, but there’s staggering cognitive dissonance between Richards’ staunch commitment to abortion and her ostensible concern for the populations most in need of compassion and care. Although Richards’ claim to fame at Planned Parenthood is in acting as a kinder, gentler spokesperson who emphasizes “healthcare,” there is no escaping the reality that, under Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood ended the lives of millions while making billions, including more than half-a-billion annually from taxpayers.
Parenthood’s prioritization of abortion profit under Richards directly calls into question her claim to be a champion of the oppressed. Case in point, Planned Parenthood’s abortions skyrocketed under Richards as health care service and the organization’s number of total clients plummeted year after year.
The discrepancy between Planned Parenthood’s history under Richards and her self-portrait in Making Trouble is jarring. Either Cecile Richards hasn’t really been in charge of Planned Parenthood for the last 12 years, or Cecile Richards’ autobiography is a disingenuous caricature of values that Richards does not truly champion. It is impossible to reconcile Cecile’s words about empowering parents and raising strong children as long as Planned Parenthood sells and profits from hundreds of thousands of abortions each year while simultaneously neglecting to address the systemic issues leading to abortion on a mass scale in our nation.
The name itself, Planned Parenthood, insinuates that parenthood is important. Sadly, outside of the words in Richards’ book, little in her career reflects support for those who choose motherhood.