Cecile Richards received a hero’s send-off on her last day as president of Planned Parenthood, but pro-life activists say her uncompromising stance on abortion and alliance with the Democratic Party have left the organization on shaky ground.
During her 12-year tenure, which officially came to an end Monday, Ms. Richards made Planned Parenthood into a political powerhouse that routinely spends tens of millions of dollars to elect Democrats to office. Yet growing political influence and increased taxpayer funding coincided with fewer medical services, fewer patient visits, massive clinic closures — and more abortions.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said Planned Parenthood became “an organization obsessed with abortion” on Ms. Richards’ watch.
“Cecile Richards leaves Planned Parenthood in disarray, seeing fewer women, under federal investigation and facing the loss of taxpayer funding,” Ms. Hawkins said. “It’s too bad she made ending life more important than helping women.”
Ms. Richards oversaw the performance of more than 3.5 million abortions during her tenure at Planned Parenthood.
The number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood has increased by nearly 11 percent since 2006, Ms. Richards’ first year on the job, despite a more than 23 percent decline in patient visits.
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James Studnicki, vice president and director of data analytics for the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, co-authored a paper recently published in the Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, which shows the national abortion rate has sharply declined over the same time that Planned Parenthood has seen a steady uptick in the procedure.
He said the data “strongly suggest that Planned Parenthood has actively propped up a national abortion rate that has otherwise seen large declines, to their obvious financial benefit.”
“More than three million abortions that might have been avoided can be attributed to Planned Parenthood’s intervention in the abortion market,” Mr. Studnicki said in a statement.
Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, said it’s no accident that Planned Parenthood has a commanding share of the U.S. abortion market.
“This study shows beyond doubt that Planned Parenthood’s commanding market share of U.S. abortions is no accident,” Mr. Donovan said in a statement. “Policymakers are fully justified in taking this fact into account as they decide how to allocate public money.”
Data also suggest that the emphasis on abortion has come at the expense of other procedures.
The number of cancer screenings performed at Planned Parenthood declined every year that Ms. Richards was president. The organization performed 200 percent more cancer screenings in 2006 than in 2017, the most recent year for which data are available.
Planned Parenthood also showed little interest in prenatal services during Ms. Richards’ tenure. Abortions outnumbered prenatal services by a ratio of more than 44-to-1 last year.
The number of Planned Parenthood facilities peaked in 2008 at 880. Today, there are fewer than 600 clinics.
If economic forces don’t put Planned Parenthood out of business, there is a good chance political powers will.
The Republican Party, galvanized by reports that Planned Parenthood trafficked in baby body parts from abortions, has never been more committed to taking taxpayers out of the abortion business.
President Trump is reportedly considering a regulation that would prohibit recipients of Title X grants, which are earmarked for family planning services, from performing abortions. The policy could cost Planned Parenthood $50 million to $60 million annually.
Ms. Hawkins said Planned Parenthood deserves blame for hollowing out the Democratic Party over the past decade. She pointed out that the party has lost more than 1,030 elected seats, including the presidency, since 2008.
“When the pro-life generation says, ‘I’m with her,’ they mean preborn women,” Ms. Hawkins said.
But pro-choice activists started the Twitter hashtag #ThankYouCecile on Monday to mark her last day at the abortion giant.
Amanda Litman, former email marketing director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, said Planned Parenthood has “literally saved lives” because of Ms. Richards’ “spine of steel.”
She thanked Ms. Richards for “refusing to compromise on our rights and for standing up with poise, humor and grace against every single challenge.”
In an interview Monday on CNN’s “New Day,” Ms. Richards said the country has made “enormous progress” during her time leading Planned Parenthood.
The daughter of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, she refused to rule out a run for elected office.
“I don’t know what’s next, but I’m excited to explore everything,” she said. “I know that I’ll be very focused in this next few months on making sure every woman in this country is registered to vote, is activated and goes to the polls in November.”