Former Planned Parenthood President speaks about partisanship and reproductive rights at UC Dems event
Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood, spoke about her career path, her partisanship around abortion and reproductive rights nationally and nationally in a question-and-answer session by UC Dems on May 3.
Prior to joining Planned Parenthood, Richards served as Nancy Pelosi’s Deputy Chief of Staff, where she worked to secure birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
“I’ve had a million jobs,” Richards said of his long career. “However, I have always been engaged in progressive politics, and I think this is probably the most interesting political moment.”
Richards found that politicians have become more and more partisan when it comes to reproductive rights issues in recent years. “When I came to Planned Parenthood, you were all in elementary school. It was interesting because there were more moderate Republicans and anti-choice Democrats in Congress. We have really established within the Democratic Party that being pro reproductive rights is in fact a politically smart thing to do.
When asked how she had changed her party’s position on the issue, Richards replied that “it was really to convince people that being in favor of personal autonomy and that people make decisions. really private was a good thing.
Richards also said that as Democratic Party support for the pro-choice stance grew, Republicans took a pro-life stance. “The Democratic Party now has a more progressive view on all [reproductive] problems, but the GOP has taken a diametrically opposite path, ”Richards said.
Richards went on to explain why politics should be involved in reproductive access, especially given his experiences with patients not understanding the role of politics in their health care. She pointed out that “restrictions on access to procreation, birth control and abortion disproportionately affect low-income people.”
Richards also discussed how state-level policies and demographics also affect the availability of reproductive health services. She mentioned how in the last election a woman in her twenties won a judge’s post in Harris County, the largest county in Texas. “Texas is a microcosm of what’s going on across the country and an indication of what’s going on in many other states as well,” she said. “What’s going on in Texas is really interesting. It also reflects this massive partisan divide.
Richards also cited Georgia as another example of deep partisanship between rural and urban areas, which leads to mixed views on reproductive rights in the state. Richards mentions that those states – “Georgia, Texas, the states where they’re trying to push through more restrictions” – are the result of this partisanship and urban-rural divide.
Richards concluded the session by encouraging young voters to contact their national representatives and get involved in local efforts to make reproductive health services more accessible. “We have a long way to go and we need a new generation of people who are thinking about reproductive rights in a less paternalistic and more empowering way. I believe in grassroots organization and this is how people change the world. We are only as good as our power to vote, hold them accountable and help them do the right thing. “