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

August 15, 2018

The waxing Libra Moon tangles with Pluto this morning. Direct confrontations are pointless. Stubborn sorts will only dig their heels in deeper. Put your intelligence to use. Carefully study your current situation and companions…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

August 2018

A fantastic shopping and educational experience for the whole family! Vendors come from New England, across the US, and many foreign countries to exhibit minerals, fossils, gemstones, jewelry,...

Cost: $8 adults, under 13 free

Where:
Eastern States Exposition
1305 Memorial Ave.
West Springfield, MA  01089
View map »


Sponsor: LLD Productions, Inc.
Telephone: 505-867-0425
Contact Name: Regina Aumente
Website »

More information

Readings, healings, vendors, presentations.

Cost: Free

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn
85 Glastonbury Blvd.
South Glastonbury, CT  06066
View map »


Website »

More information

During the weekend of August 10-12, 2018 we will gather again at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts for the 44th Annual NOFA SC. This immersive annual gathering is an opportunity to come...

Cost: See website

Where:
Hampshire College
Amherst, MA


Sponsor: Northeast Organic Farming Association
Telephone: 774-262-7986
Contact Name: Marjorie Bailey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 13 - 17, 9am - 1pm Instructor: Peyton Pugmire For student entering grades 6-8 iPhones are amazing, but you know what’s even more amazing? You! During this imaginative week...

Cost: $250

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Sponsor: Creative Spirit
Telephone: 781-797-0389
Website »

More information

August 13 - 16 Juan Li has been teaching Daoist energy practices for the last 27 years. He has created a sequence of practices based on the I Ching, adapted to the emotional and mental...

Cost: $950 single retreat; $1650 for both retreats (8/16)

Where:
Angels’ Rest Retreat
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01337
View map »


Sponsor: Tao Retreats
Telephone: 212-243-6771
Contact Name: Sharon Smith
Website »

More information

August 13 - 14 This fun and exciting healing workshop guarantees you valuable knowledge and powerful skills to keep you in a higher vibration of energy and flowing with infinite intelligence and...

Where:
Royal Plaza Best Western
Marlborough, MA


Sponsor: Geozuwa
Telephone: 646-606-9935
Website »

More information

August 13 - 21 With NLP training and master healer certification. This course is specifically designed for healers of every modality. For information call (646) 606-9935 or visit...

Where:
Marlboro, MA


Telephone: 646-606-9935
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 14 - 24 For millennia people have entered the wilderness to encounter Spirit and seek their direction, purpose, or medicine. If you are seeking guidance and renewal, or you’re...

Cost: $1295

Where:
Somerset Lake
P.O. Box 48
Putney, VT  05346
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Air and Stone
Telephone: 802-387-6624
Contact Name: Sparrow Hart
Website »

More information

What better way to end a busy day than with a little bliss. We'll support your body right where it is today and help you to open your spine to find more movement and flexibility. Begin and end...

Cost: $18

Where:
Body Love Wellness Center
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Yoga is an ancient behavioral practice that allows for the development and enhancement of mind-body skills and behavioral factors including physical functioning, self-regulation of internal...

Cost: Free

Where:
CIC Cambridge
One Broadway
Charles Conference Room, 14th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02142
View map »


Sponsor: CIC Wellness
Telephone: 617-953-0674
Contact Name: Shakti Rowan
Website »

More information

Barbara Macias will present an information workshop on the benefits of essential oils. A demonstration of the oils will be included. Please RSVP at katboston@comcast.net

Cost: Free

Where:
NBA Business Center
145 Washington Street
Route 53
Norwell, MA  02061
View map »


Sponsor: Mind Balance Hypnosis
Telephone: 339-788-1193
Contact Name: Kathryn Caruso

More information

Relax and restore this summer with free outdoor yoga classes on historic Rogers Field! We’re packing the lawn with yogis of all levels for yoga led by experienced practitioners from Dragonfly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rogers Field
Devens, MA


Sponsor: Dragonfly Wellness Center
Telephone: 978-487-7181
Contact Name: Anne Ferguson
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 16 - 19 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

August 16 - 19 Juan Li has been teaching Daoist energy practices for the last 27 years. He has created a sequence of practices based on the I Ching, adapted to the emotional and mental...

Cost: $950 single retreat; $1650 for both retreats (8/13)

Where:
Angels’ Rest Retreat
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01337
View map »


Sponsor: Tao Retreats
Telephone: 212-243-6771
Contact Name: Sharon Smith
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...

With June Edward, “The Massachusette Medium” This is a mediumship gallery with June Edward, the “Massachusetts Medium!” Have you ever wanted to talk to someone on the...

Cost: $55 on Eventbrite, $60 at door

Where:
Plymouth Lodge AF & AM
116 S Meadow Rd
Plymouth, MA  02360
View map »


Sponsor: June Edward “The Massachusetts Medium”
Telephone: 508-259-1231
Contact Name: June Edward
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Guide: Peyton Pugmire Ages 16+ Like meditating with a paintbrush! Escape your stress and routine and re-connect with yourself, your heart and soul - one brushstroke at a time. This fun...

Cost: $85 (includes cost of all supplies)

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Telephone: 781-797-0389
Contact Name: Peyton Pugmire
Website »

More information

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