Cecile Richards on leaving Planned Parenthood, women running for office
Cecile Richards is entering her final weeks at the helm of Planned Parenthood. The organization provides health care programs like birth control, cancer screening, pregnancy care and abortion services to more than two million people at more than 600 centers nationwide. For 12 years, Richards fought for women's health care and organized campaigns to protect Planned Parenthood's federal and state funding. She will step down as president next month.
"It's hard to leave, but I'm ready to step aside and have someone else take on the responsibilities at a time where I think we're incredibly strong in this country," Richards said Monday on "CBS This Morning."
It's an "exciting time" in the nation, she said, with a record number of women running for office. As the daughter of Ann Richards, Democratic governor of Texas in the '90s, it's a trend she's followed closely. If half the members of Congress could get pregnant, "we would quit fighting about birth control and Planned Parenthood and move on to other issues," she said.
"Women running for office. Does that mean Cecile Richards running for office?" "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King asked.
"Well, never say never," Richards responded. "But I'm really excited in these next few months to make sure that women are not only running for office but they are registered to vote and that they're turning out in November. I think women have the opportunity to change the landscape and change the direction of America."
Richards is sharing her own story for the first time in her new book, "Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead," published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS.
"I hope this book is both a memoir but also a little bit of a call to action for people who want to make a difference in the world," she said.
In the book, she also writes about a meeting she had with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump not long after President Trump was elected.
"I'd heard that they were interested in meeting to learn more about Planned Parenthood. And I would do anything, go anywhere, talk to anyone about the important care that we provide," Richards said. "So I took my husband, actually, because I wanted somebody else with me and we sat and talked to them, but it really seemed pretty clear that they just wanted to make a political deal. They wanted us to quit providing abortion services to women in America."
"Didn't they say we could guarantee funding if you say you'll stop abortions?" King asked.
"That's basically what they said. And I just said we will never turn our backs on women in America. It's a legal service. And plus, as you say, no federal funding goes for abortion services. So, though I was very disappointed in the outcome of the meeting, I have been incredibly encouraged, again, at the outpouring of the people who support Planned Parenthood. And that's really why our doors have stayed open this last year."
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