family planning
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. / Lorie Shaull

Planned Parenthood CEO: 'We aren't going anywhere'

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards addressed President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to defund the organization, which has largely been seen as an attack on women’s rights, and said the organization is not going down without a fight.

“Some of our states have been under attack for a long, long time. So they know how to fight back,” Richards said. “We’ve been around for 100 years and we aren’t going anywhere.”

According to its website, one in five women in the country have visited at least one of Planned Parenthood’s estimated 650 centers. Planned Parenthood sees about 2.5 million men and women a year.

“Planned Parenthood patients are immigrants, they’re Muslims, they’re LGBT folks, they’re single parents, they’re students,” Richards said. “And all of the attacks that folks are anticipating going forward are ones that are already engaging our activists as well. We feel a particular responsibility to stand with those who’ve stood with us as we’ve been under attack these many years.”

Trump has made it known that he plans to shut down the healthcare provider. In a September 2016 letter Trump addressed anti-abortion activists and said he is committed to criminalizing late-term abortions as well as defunding Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile, Vice President-elect Mike Pence has an even longer history of battling the organization. The Indiana governor sponsored the first bill set at defunding Planned Parenthood in 2007. He cut the organization’s funding in Indiana by over $1 million. And in 2015, he led the investigation that alleged the group was selling aborted fetus parts — a claim that was concluded to be unfounded and based on highly doctored videos.

Planned Parenthood provides education, Pap tests, breast exams, sexual health screenings and treatments and services to prevent pregnancy. About 3 percent of its services are for abortions.

Despite the attacks on the healthcare provider, according to Richards, “I believe there is enormous solidarity across the country, not only among our supporters, but among other progressive organizations who are similarly facing unprecedented assaults.”

She also spoke of the organization’s upcoming “Stand with Planned Parenthood” campaign.

“We will make sure that every single senator who votes on the issue of whether patients can come to Planned Parenthood is fully aware of the millions of people who are going to lose health care, including thousands in the states they represent,” Richards said.

Planned Parenthood relies heavily on federal funding — but the battle against the Republican Congress goes much further than that, according to Richards. And while women’s health services are primarily what is at risk, they are not the only ones who could be affected:

“This is actually about women — primarily women, but all people who are on Medicaid — being able to come to Planned Parenthood for preventive care. It’s not abortion; the federal government and Medicaid do not fund abortion services. This is literally whether a young man in Texas can come to us for an STI testing, or whether a woman who has a lump in her breast can come to us in Ohio to have a breast exam or be referred for screenings, or whether a college student or a young person anywhere in the country can come to us for family planning.”

If Congress succeeds at defunding the organization at the federal level, Richards said the healthcare provider plans to work with state governors at the local level to ensure people can continue to receive healthcare services.

Richards also pointed to statistics showing that the majority of Trump’s voters do not support defunding Planned Parenthood completely.

“So our job right now is to ensure that the incoming president recognizes the devastating impact it would have on real people and their lives — and how important it is not to go that direction,” she said.

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