Outgoing Planned Parenthood president leaves legacy on both side of the abortion debate.
After leading Planned Parenthood for over a decade, Cecile Richards has built a legacy as one of the organization’s most effective leaders, rallying millions of new supporters to the issue of “reproductive rights.”
In doing so, she also intensified the pro-life cause among those who oppose her organization—and the broader pro-choice movement—for providing and endorsing abortion.
As evangelical sociologist (and CT board member) Michael Lindsay once wrote in 2008, “Political movements like the Religious Right don’t need a ‘god’ to succeed, but they do need a devil. Nothing builds allegiances among a coalition like a common enemy.”
Richards has proven divisive; a line in a New York Times article about her retirement states that, “Depending on whom you ask, the elegant 60-year-old is a national ‘hero’ or a ‘deeply evil woman’ and ‘mass murderer.’”
The announcement of her retirement came days after the annual March for Life and the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, two of the most popular occasions for pro-life demonstrations.
“Planned Parenthood has never been as slick and as politically savvy as it has been under the reign of Cecile Richards. That has served Planned Parenthood well, but in some ways it has served the pro-life movement well, too,” said Karen Swallow Prior, a Liberty University professor of English who has written about her own history of abortion activism.
“Richards helped turn what might once have been seen as a beleaguered public service agency into an easy target for the anti-institutional idealism of a younger generation of pro-lifers.”
As Richards led Planned Parenthood through unprecedented …
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