What You Learn From A Life Surrounded By Troublemaking, Kickass Women


Published:

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, speaking at a women's roundtable at Hillary for Minnesota Headquarters in St Paul, MN.

© Lorie Shaull, Flickr CC

The best and worst part about being a professional troublemaker is that the trouble never ends, Cecile Richards writes in her new memoir, Make Trouble.

She should know. Though she is now president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Richard’s leadership and activism, organizing and civil disobedience in the name of social justice, spans virtually her entire life. Even before the work with women’s reproductive rights, her career took her from worksites in New Orleans and East Texas, where she organized hotel and nursing home workers, to Washington, D.C., where during a gap year from college she was involved in efforts to implement Title IX, the law, passed five years earlier, requiring men and women have equal opportunity to education.

As head of what is perhaps the most visible symbol of feminism in this country, Richards routinely faces down attacks from anti-abortion and far-right foes and has fended off repeated efforts to defund and derail the women’s health care organization. Perhaps no single episode has raised her public profile as much as the five-hour grilling she endured by Republican male members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2015.

“Here’s what I learned sitting in front of that committee,” Richards writes in her book, Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead. “Focus on the people who are counting on you, not the ones who are trying to drag you down.”

Now, as she prepares to leave Planned Parenthood after 12 years, her sentiments about never-ending trouble seem inarguable. Uncertainty hangs over women’s rights issues in this country, from reproductive health to the gender pay gap. The Guttmacher Institute reports that, between 2010 and 2016, states enacted more than 330 measures to restrict abortion access. Meanwhile, the #MeToo movement continues to unmask a sexist, if not misogynistic, underbelly.

“For the first time in my life, I’m wondering whether my own daughters will have fewer rights than I’ve had,” writes Richards, the mother of two daughters and a son. “That alone is enough motivation for me to keep making trouble.”

You could say she was born into her role of troublemaker. Her mother was the late Ann Richards, who turned a career as a homemaker in a conservative state into one of progressive activism and politics to become the first female governor of modern-era Texas. Her name had become familiar to Americans during the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta when she famously derided then-Republican presidential nominee George H.W. Bush: “Poor George. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

Ann Richards’ 1991 gubernatorial campaign was an inspiration to women across Texas and beyond. “Everywhere I went, women my mom’s age and with her hairdo would grab me by the arm and say, “I never thought I’d see the day.”

She describes a life surrounded by kickass women. “At every job I’ve had, I’ve tried to work for someone who could teach me something—and more often than not that someone has been a woman.”

At age 16, she worked on the Texas House of Representatives campaign of Sarah Weddington, the ambitious young attorney who had argued the case of Jane Roe in Roe v Wade before the U.S Supreme Court in 1973. “It was a really tough race, and I saw firsthand how ugly it could be for a woman to run for office,” she says.

She worked in the office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking woman in the U.S House of Representatives, admiring her courage and determination in going against her party leadership on the invasion of Iraq and then persuading the majority of House Democrats to go along with her in voting against it. She crisscrossed the country campaigning for Hillary Clinton in battleground states. Speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016 Richards said, “Tonight we are closer than ever to putting a women in the White House. And I can almost hear mom saying, ‘well, it sure took y’all long enough.”

Of course, that didn’t happen.

After the election, Planned Parenthood was heading into a “battle of a lifetime,” she wrote. As a candidate, Trump promised to defund the organization, and House Speaker Paul Ryan vowed to repeal Obamacare.

But her organization was used to this. At one point, four  congressional committees were investigating it, more than were assigned to investigate Enron in the 2008 global financial crisis.

With more than 100 years of research in reproductive health, Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest provider of sex education resources and affordable health care—for both men and women. In 2016, it served more than 2.4 million patients.

When a Republican-controlled Congress passed a bill to defund it in 2015, President Obama vetoed it. Nearly every “knock-down-drag-out fight over the Affordable Care Act had to do with women’s health,” she writes.

She recalls a scene in the Capitol visitor center before a news conference to announce Planned Parenthood’s support for Obamacare. Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the longest serving woman in Congress, jumped up on her trademark step stool, pulled out her bright red lipstick, and smearing it on declared, “Get ready women, we are going to war.”

Just before passage of Obamacare, a last-minute proposal was introduced, with support from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to prevent insurance plans from covering abortions under the law. The Stupak Amendment, as it was called, went against everything Planned Parenthood stood for. Eventually it was removed, but only after intense lobbying.

“Without the women in the House and Senate, it would have been a different story,” Richards writes. “I firmly believe that when half of Congress can get pregnant, we will finally stop arguing about birth control, abortions and Planned Parenthood—and we might even fully fund women’s health care.”

Richards believes that now, more than ever, women are the most important political force in America. “We have enormous power to change the direction of this country, and it’s time to use it.”

Lornet Turnbull wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Lornet is an editor for YES! and a Seattle-based freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @TurnbullL.

This article was republished from YES! Magazine.

See also:
How Planned Parenthood Has Helped Millions Of Women, Including Me
It’s Her Choice

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

October 15, 2018

The working week begins under promising skies. Mental faculties are sharp and morning traffic flows smoothly. The industrious Capricorn Moon is favorably aligned with Mercury and Venus in Scorpio, a celestial “whistle while you work” signature…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

October 2018

October 14 - 18 Join the acclaimed Grandmaster William C. C. Chen for an intensive five-day Tai Chi Chuan Fall Retreat. Knowledge of the Yang-style short form is a requirement for participation....

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Eco Village
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Website »

More information

October 14 - November 19 60 PDAs A 36 day retreat in which acclaimed Qigong master, Junfeng Li, will meditate and practice not only Sheng Zhen Gong daily, but will also share traditions that...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Eco Village
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

Lunare is open to magickal vendors and holistic practitioners wishing to offer their spiritual goods and services to an audience interested in all things mystical. General admission to...

Cost: Free general admission, lecture tickets $15

Where:
Hunt Memorial Building
6 Main St
Nashua, NH  03064
View map »


Sponsor: Lunare Mystics
Telephone: 603-801-2113
Contact Name: Alyssa O'Mara
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join Psychic Medium Diane Lewis for gallery style readings. Diane will be connecting to spirit delivering messages from those who have crossed over. Don't miss this free event sponsored by...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hopkinton Public Library
13 Main Street
Hopkinton, MA, MA  01748
View map »


Sponsor: Hopkinton Public Library
Telephone: 617-645-6415
Contact Name: Diane Lewis
Website »

More information

Break emotional patterns that keep you stuck in the pain of addictive habits. Heal mental trauma through physical practices involving movement, breath, and meditation.

Where:
Yoga at the Ashram
368 Village Street
Millis, MA  02054
View map »


Sponsor: Yoga At The Ashram
Telephone: (508) 376-4525
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Contact Name: Brad Fanger

More information

With Carrie Rowan Wednesday evenings at 7pm, a 4-week introductory class that teaches quick energy medicine tools, mini meditations to help moms/dads and caregivers reduce stress and stay calm...

Where:
Fitzgerald Institute
Northboro, MA


Telephone: (508) 273-2610
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

October 18 - 21 Magnetic-harmonic vibrational therapist, Jay Emmanuel, A.K., N.S.,V.M. shares powerful energy techniques that use the forces of sounds produced by the human voice in combination...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

Course participant experiences:  “After this course, I learned how to recognize where I hold my tension and release it.”  “My favorite part of the program is the...

Cost: $650

Where:
CHA Center for Mindfulness & Compassion
26 Central Street
2nd Floor Community Room
Somerville, MA  02143
View map »


Sponsor: CHA Center for Mindfulness & Compassion
Telephone: 617-591-6132
Contact Name: Bridget Kiley
Website »

More information

The H.E.A.R.T. Program® (Health Empowerment and Real Transformation) is an innovative holistic curriculum addressing the current health crisis and epidemics of obesity, heart disease, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Michelle Caron
Website »

More information

Daily practice for peace, healing, Christ mindedness, meditation, awakening.

Where:
Milton, MA


Telephone: 617-696-5685
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

14 CEU Credits for Massage/Bodywork Therapists! Oct 19-21: Chi Nei Tsang And...pre-weekend women only event: Oct 18: Women’s Sexual Ecstacy - 1-6pm/6CEUs Chi Nei...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Eco Village
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

October 19 - 20 (Workshop runs 10-5 both days) When the phase of the Sixth Sun began with the eclipse of July 11, 2010 it was time, according to Sergio’s teacher, for the ancient...

Where:
Natick Mariott Courtyard
Natick, MA


Contact Name: Sandy Corcoran
Website »

More information

With Yogi Amandeep Adi Shakti represents all divine energies. When activated, she manifests herself as creativity, prosperity, wisdom. Rare workshop uniting ancient science of Kundalini...

Where:
Yoga at the Ashram
368 Village St
Millis, MA  02054
View map »


Telephone: (508) 376-4525
Website »

More information

Connect with the ancient wisdom of yoga. Learn how yoga practices are designed to address life’s problems, such as work stress, relationship difficulties, and common mental health issues. Be...

Cost: $40

Where:
Yogalife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-867-3969
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

No previous experience is required for this Friday evening event. It is essential for students who are unfamiliar with using the Pathway Prayer Process© and who plan to attend the 2-day...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom - New location late Summer '18
386 Merrimack Street
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Bee Kind Music Class with Carrie Rowan inspires a love to music in little ones. 10am on Fridays for 8 weeks at Playtown Express in Southboro. To register call (508) 480-0022 or...

Where:
Playtown Express
150 Cordaville Road
Southboro, MA
View map »


Telephone: 508-273-2610
Website »

More information

The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Contact Name: Brad Fanger

More information

“For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.” — Sanskrit Proverb Join us for an evening of deep exploration and transformation using the healing...

Cost: $40 (limited hardship rates available)

Where:
Museum of Modern Renaissance
115 College Avenue
Somerville, MA  02144
View map »


Sponsor: HolotropicMA
Contact Name: Allen Howell M.Ed. LMHC
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Refresh, refocus, simplify. Discover easy tools and strategies to prepare for an incredible holiday season. 8:00–8:30 Registration open 8:30–8:35 Welcome 8:35–9:20 Circle...

Cost: $99

Where:
Women’s Health Resource Center
9 Hanover Street
Lebanon, NH  03766
View map »


Sponsor: Almstrom Financial, Green Mt. Hypnosis, Patti Friedman, Eva Loomis
Telephone: (603) 650-2600
Contact Name: Women’s Health Resource Center

More information

October 20 - 21 Early Bird Special! Register before September 30 and save $45! Prerequisite: Be familiar with accessing the Akashic Records through the Pathway Prayer Process© either...

Cost: $350 before September 30

Where:
Circles of Wisdom - New location late Summer '18
386 Merrimack Street
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

See all that is new at Dragonfly! Come and meet our new practitioners and teachers and learn about the innovative holistic modalities that are being offered. Participate in free classes, see...

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Center
176 Jackson Rd.
Devens, MA  MA
View map »


Telephone: 978-487-7181
Website »

More information

October 20 & 21, 10:30am-6:30pm Practices and Approaches for PTSD, Depression and Anxiety with Erin Byron, MA, E-RYT500, C-IAYT, YACEP, Licensed Mental Health Professional Experiment with...

Cost: $325

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-867-3969
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

The shamanic rattle is a sacred tool that can be used to shift into an altered state of consciousness, sense and track energy, and heal the energetic body, which contains the codes underlying...

Cost: $40

Where:
Akasha Studio
20 Birch Street
Roslindale, MA  02131
View map »


Sponsor: Miriam Katz, Shamanic Healer
Telephone: 617-545-5142
Contact Name: Miriam Katz
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags