National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Richards spotlights role of women of color, reproductive justice leaders in advancing abortion rights

In an opinion piece for Medium, Cecile Richards, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, discusses a recent Washington Post profile that, she says, "completely miss[ed] the point" and "continued the long history of erasing the bold and brave leadership of the reproductive justice community."

Richards explains that she participated in the profile "to talk about how in [Planned Parenthood's] 99th year, [the organization] had rebounded from the vicious smear campaign last summer to continue to be part of the effort to advance reproductive rights and freedom for all today." However, Richards says, "the Post overstated my role and did not do justice to our broad movement."

Richards writes that the reproductive justice movement "is being fueled by a generation of activists and leaders -- primarily women of color -- who are challenging the country, and all of us, to be unapologetic champions for the rights of all people to access abortion and reproductive care with a lens of social justice." According to Richards, "The roots of this supposedly newfound boldness lie in the reproductive justice movement, which formally began 22 years ago this November, and which generated the growth across the country of organizing primarily led by women of color that has turned conventional attitudes and organizations on their heads."

She explains that organizations led by women of color "began the call for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment  --  a harmful law that denies access to abortion to those who have public insurance, discriminating against low-income women and, disproportionately, women of color." Richards notes that Planned Parenthood did not initiate the "loud and proud campaigns to publicly talk about abortion and reduce stigma, and the work to address the historic injustice and oppression that women of color and other marginalized communities have experienced (and continue to) in order to control their bodies" -- and "many justifiably feel [that Planned Parenthood] ha[s] been late to the show."

Richards states, "The movement is fueled by organizers and organizations that are rightly calling all of us to task  --  to do more and do better." She points to All* Above All, a coalition of reproductive justice leaders across the United States, which has "led the fight to overturn the Hyde amendment," as well as the individual reproductive rights leaders who have helped "center women of color in the conversation about reproductive rights and abortion." Moreover, Richards highlights the "bold and tough and groundbreaking" work of "[a]bortion funds across the country -- grassroots and volunteer-run in many states -- [that] ... work to ensure all women who decide to have an abortion can get one."

Richards concludes, "It is time that the leaders of today  --  of the reproductive justice and women of color-led organizations  --  get the recognition and credit that is long overdue, and that we all have the opportunity to learn from and work with them to support their vision" (Richards, Medium, 8/17).