The Wisdom of Cecile Richards

Cecile Richards is the current President of Planned Parenthood and it’s action fund. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, on October 10, 2012. In the current political climate, critical women’s rights are at risk of being curtailed. All people deserve access to education and services that support their best choices, for their values and purpose. Cecile Richards embodies the best of the civil rights movements of this country–courage, vision, voice, and service. A gigantic thank you to The Commonwealth Club, Mother Jones, Global Fund for Women, and NAWBO-SF Bay Area for making this event possible. There’s nothing like witnessing extraordinary leadership to inspire a new generation of activists.

“We’re like the Fandango of reproductive health care.” –on the ease of access to information on sexual health via Planned Parenthood

“It was about…being part of the community…and there’s nothing tedious or drudg[ing] about that.”
–on her exposure to political activism at an early age

“I don’t understand why women’s health care is a partisan issue. It’s not.” –on the intense political polarization around women’s health issues

“[It doesn’t matter] who is in office, we’re never going away.” –on the resilience and importance of Planned Parenthood to our social well-being

“The whole pro-choice/pro-life labeling is completely irrelevant in America [today]…The next generation isn’t really interested in any labels [around politics]…We have to think [critically] about labels and terminology that limit conversation [around these issues].”

“It’s not just about preventing pregnancy, it’s about sexual health. Are we ever going to be in a place in this country where we agree that sex is a good thing?”

“The fastest-growing patient population at Planned Parenthood is young men.”

“The last place these decisions [about family planning] should be made is in government and in the legislature.”

“Providing young people with comprehensive sex education is actually not a big turn-on. Young people with more access to information about STIs and birth control actually wait longer to have sex.” –on abstinance-only sex education

“Everything is bottom-up.” –on how Planned Parenthood has been using social media for their advocacy and messaging

“Social media is the most democratic vehicle we have now for stories people wouldn’t otherwise see.”

“As it turns out, young men in their 20s are just as interested in birth control as young women.”

“After Glen Beck’s comments about how ‘only hookers go to Planned Parenthood,’ it turns out a there were a few non-hookers who had visited and they started talking on our Facebook page.” –on of her most memorable moments in the past year of overwhelming popular response to partisan attacks on women’s health

“1 in 5 women have been to Planned Parenthood in this country.” –on Glen Beck’s above assertion

“I’m still stunned that we’re having this conversation again” –on the debate around the legality of contraception

Moderator: “A recent study showed that universal [access to] birth control would be the fastest, cheapest way to reduce abortion rates. Why do you think pro-choice and pro-life advocates can’t unite behind that?”
Cecile: “I honestly have no idea.”

“1/3 of our new Peer Health Advocates are young men.”

“That’s going to be the big difference in this country [for this generation]” –on advocacy amongst young men for women’s health issues

“Elected officials need folks on the outside to keep them moving in the right direction.” –on why she prefers advocacy and organizing to politicking

“The shaming that goes on with women in this country is inexcusable.” –on Sandra Fluke and ‘legitimate rape’ hoopla

“The more we can see women early-on and get them preventative care, the more women’s lives we can save.” –on the importance of breast cancer screening to women’s health

“By God, I hope in my lifetime we have a woman President of the United States.” –in response to a request that she run for President

“I cannot overemphasize how important it is for women to get in positions of power deciding policy.” –on how women can make the biggest difference in affecting social change

Cecile Richards earned Inforum’s 21st-century Visionary Award, presented by The Commonwealth Club. On October 10, 2012, she spoke and was interviewed by Clara Jeffery of Mother Jones magazine at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, CA. The event was sponsored in-part by NAWBO-SF Bay Area.