Ex-Planned Parenthood chief’s big regret isn’t millions of abortions, but this political blunder

·2 min read

Texan Cecile Richards, reflecting on her time leading Planned Parenthood, settled on one major regret from her 12-year tenure.

It’s not the millions of abortions performed on her watch. It’s not employing someone so cavalier about the procedure that she talked casually about the value of fetal parts while eating a salad. It’s not even saying that she didn’t consider her own children to be alive until they were born.

No, Richards’ biggest regret is that she didn’t realize those darn Republicans were actually serious about trying to end abortion.

“I wasn’t cynical enough to fully comprehend the extent of the Republican Party’s willingness to trade away people’s lives for political power,” she wrote last week for The New York Times. “I had faith that if we provided excellent health care and showed how access to reproductive rights had helped women, as well as our economy … this, too, would pass.”

Cecile Richards in 2015, when she was president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (file).
Cecile Richards in 2015, when she was president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (file).

Richards’ piece was published for the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, perhaps the last one before the Supreme Court overturns or greatly modifies the landmark 1973 ruling. On the brink of a possible huge legal loss, you’d think Richards might reflect on whether she and her allies went too far.

Abortion-rights supporters once aimed to make the procedure, in former President Bill Clinton’s shrewd phrase, “safe, legal and rare.” Richards is right when she notes that a majority of Americans, when polled, seem to want protections for the right to an abortion in many cases. Count me in.

But advocates have fought every reasonable restriction. And the same polls that Richards cites also indicate far-left views on how late to allow abortions are just as extremist as the far right seeking a near-total ban. In fact, more so.

But they don’t get labeled that way in news coverage. Richards has enjoyed media sunshine, especially in her native Texas. As the daughter of Democratic legend Ann Richards and the defender of abortion rights, Cecile Richards has been portrayed as a hero.

So, when she got out on a limb by, say, refusing to acknowledge that when life begins is a factor in considering abortion rights, no one told her. And now she’s shocked — shocked! — that her political opponents proved determined to cut that limb off.

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