Run, Cecile, run: The internet reacts to Richards stepping down from Planned Parenthood

Elise Solé

Cecile Richards, the president and the public face of Planned Parenthood, is leaving the company after more than a decade, and the internet is shook.

On Wednesday, BuzzFeed broke the story after speaking to two anonymous sources, who said that Richards had shared her plans with some members of Planned Parenthood’s board of directors. There’s no word on where the 60-year-old is heading, but she’ll likely be promoting her upcoming memoir, Make Trouble, to be published in April.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, is stepping down. (Photo: Getty Images)

On Friday, Planned Parenthood sent a statement confirming the news. “Today, Planned Parenthood announced that after 12 years of service to the organization, Cecile Richards has informed the Planned Parenthood Federation Board of Directors that she will be stepping down as president in 2018,” they said.

While Richards has not said specifically what she will do after Planned Parenthood, she did say that she would stay dedicated to women and progressive politics. “Every day we see the incredible power that grassroots voices can have — there has never been a better moment to be an activist. You can bet I’ll be marching right alongside them, continuing to travel around the country advocating for the basic rights and health care that all people deserve. I’ve been an activist my entire life — and that won’t stop any time soon,” she said in a statement.

People on social media feel all sorts of ways about her departure and already the rumor mill is churning with the story that she might run for office (even after she told the New York Times that she is “not thinking of running for anything.”).

Earlier this week, Richards made headlines at the Women’s March rally in Las Vegas with a buzzed-about speech. “All across the country, the Women’s March inspired doctors and teachers and mothers to become activists and organizers and, yes, candidates for office,” she said. “And from Virginia to Alabama and to last week in Wisconsin, women have beaten the odds to elect our own to office. … Women of color, transgender women, rural and urban women.”

“These victories were led and made possible by women of color,” Richards said, adding, “So, white women, listen up. We’ve got to do better. … It is not up to women of color to save this country from itself. That’s on all of us. That’s on all of us.”

Planned Parenthood was also thrust into the spotlight during the 2016 presidential election, endorsing Hillary Clinton and launching an initiative to “Pink Out the Vote” with the help of thousands of volunteers.

“Donald Trump has made this election about how we treat women in this country, and that spells bad news for a number of the Republican Senate candidates who are now stuck defending their years-long records of attacking women’s health and rights,” Deirdre Schifeling, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes said in a memo. “We’re the ones whose health and rights are at stake in this election, and we will be the reason that we elect Hillary Clinton to the White House.”

After President Trump was elected, Planned Parenthood also received nearly $100K in donations from “Mike Pence” in a jab to the vice president’s antiabortion views.

And in March, the nonprofit was the subject of a firestorm involving two antiabortion activists who were charged with 15 felonies after editing videos shot undercover at Planned Parenthood’s California locations that depicted the organization as secretly selling fetal tissue. Investigations into the allegations have come up empty. According to NPR, “state investigations have yet to find any evidence that Planned Parenthood was selling or profiting off fetal tissue.”

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