NEW YORK― Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards is planning to leave the organization after heading it for more than a decade, according to a report by BuzzFeed News.
Reached for comment, a Planned Parenthood spokesman said Richards “plans to discuss 2018 and the next steps for Planned Parenthood’s future at the upcoming board meeting” late next week.
Richards, the 60-year-old daughter of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards (D), has been the iconic face of Planned Parenthood since 2006, during which time she transformed the family planning provider into a massively influential political force for abortion rights.
Each time Republicans in Congress have tried to defund the organization since taking over the House of Representatives in 2011, Planned Parenthood has bounced back stronger, gaining tens of thousands of new members and huge fundraising spikes. The group now has 11 million supporters ― with 1.5 million having joined in the past year.
Planned Parenthood flexed its political muscle last year after Donald Trump became president. Two of the main campaign promises made by Trump and Republican leaders in Congress were to defund Planned Parenthood and to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But despite having control of the House, Senate and White House, Republicans failed at both missions.
Richards attributes that failure to the groundswell of support for Planned Parenthood and its mission.
“If you had told me a year ago that we could block the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the two signature things Republicans promised … no one would have believed it,” she told HuffPost last week. “It happened because you couldn’t go to a single town hall meeting without facing angry women in pink hats and T-shirts.”
Planned Parenthood hasn’t confirmed Richards’ move, nor is providing details on who might take her place.