Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards admitted no one in the abortion industry is sure how to respond to the crushing blow dealt to the non-profit by the reality of Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of Congress.
“The truth is, no one really knows what will make a difference anymore,” Richards told Buzzfeed, saying the energy is there among abortionists to fight back, but indicating there’s no sure way to productively direct the outrage.
Just a few months ago, the non-profit was poised to welcome a Democrat administration that promised an eager ally. Hillary Clinton is a personal friend of Richards who made a big show of support for Planned Parenthood during the campaign, and won praise from abortionists who labeled her the “most unapologetic champion” of their cause ever nominated.
Planned Parenthood had apparently come through the “baby parts” scandal — one of the worst PR crises in its history — relatively unscathed, after Congress failed to defund the organization and a House investigation into the scandal failed to turn up serious evidence of lawbreaking behavior. Clinton had even added a repeal of the Hyde Amendment to the Democrat Party platform, an extreme position that would allow the government to directly fund abortions with taxpayer dollars.
The Republican Party’s smashing success at the polls, however, leaves Planned Parenthood back on its heels. Congress is likely to strip the non-profit of half a billion in federal funds each year, and Trump has already installed a conservative justice on the Supreme Court as part of an indirect fulfillment of his campaign promise to fight Roe v. Wade.
“Quite clearly the Supreme Court is an enormous risk,” Richards told Buzzfeed, saying she has zero hope Trump’s nominee Neil Gorsuch will prove an ally of abortionists. “It is really frightening to think we would go back to a time when we were fighting about access to birth control in women’s insurance plans. Or that you would let your boss decide whether or not you could get it.”
“I’ve never seen a reaction like this before in this volume,” she added, while indicating it’s not clear what concrete results efforts such as the women’s march on Washington will have in terms of stopping Republicans from doing damage to her organization.
NARAL Pro-Choice is sounding a similar note of bewilderment about the pro-choice movement’s path forward. The abortion group’s deputy policy director, Leslie McGorman, told Bloomberg News they will “pull out all of the stops” to stop Congress from defunding Planned Parenthood, but: “What tactic that requires remains to be seen.”
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