Cecile Richards | Media Matters for America

Cecile Richards

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  • The most extreme right-wing reactions to Cecile Richards' departure from Planned Parenthood

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT

    On January 24, BuzzFeed reported that Cecile Richards plans to step down as president of Planned Parenthood. Richards confirmed the news on January 26, saying she is departing the organization some time this year. Immediately, anti-abortion and right-wing media and groups took the opportunity to smear Richards and Planned Parenthood in a number of outlandish ways.

    • The Federalist inaccurately claimed that Richards was leaving “amid an ongoing federal investigation.” The story pointed as evidence to the Department of Justice’s procedural request to the Senate judiciary committee in December 2017 for documents related to the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress’ (CMP) discredited videos, which purport to show Planned Parenthood engaged in illicit practices.
    • Anti-abortion outlet LifeSiteNews published a piece that quoted CMP’s founder David Daleiden who alleged that Richards was leaving because “the secret is out that Planned Parenthood is a taxpayer-sponsored crime syndicate of industrial-scale child killing."
    • On One America News’ Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler, host Liz Wheeler said that although some might refer to her as "a conspiracy theorist,” her previous segment “about the legacy of Cecile Richards” was “666 words exactly.” She made the same point on Twitter.
    • Anti-abortion group Operation Rescue’s Senior Vice President Cheryl Sullenger -- who served two years in prison for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic -- posted on social media a series of photoshopped images of Richards wearing an orange jumpsuit in a prison cell and used a variety of hashtags, such as #ReleaseTheMemo and #Qanon. Sullenger’s use of the hashtags was likely an attempt to connect Richards’ departure to the right-wing campaign against special counsel Robert Mueller and the conspiracy theory thread on 8chan message board, respectively.

    • The Stream, an outlet founded by televangelist James Robison, posted a story titled “Can Cecile Richards Live With All the Ghosts?”

    • The Daily Wire called Richards “Planned Parenthood’s chief maniacal ghoul” and stated that “we can only hope Cecile Richards returns swiftly to the obscurity of whichever cavern of Hell spawned her.” The image accompanying the article -- titled “3.5 Million People Are Dead Today Because Of Cecile Richards” -- depicted Richards with devil horns and tail, photoshopped on an ultrasound image of a fetus with a halo.

    • Fake news purveyor Conservative Tribune responded to news of Richards’ departure, commenting, “It takes a special kind of evil to go to sleep at night knowing babies are being killed under your watch.”
    • Catholic newspaper National Catholic Register published a blog post that asked, “Does Richards sleep well at night, or are sleeping pills required to stop the nightmares of babies’ souls that come to visit?”
    • After Hillary Clinton tweeted at Richards thanking her for her work, far-right blog The Gateway Pundit published a piece titled, “Hillary Clinton Thanks Planned Parenthood Pres Cecile Richards For Overseeing the Murder of Millions of Babies - Twitter Responds.”

  • STUDY: Networks Fail To Report Consequences Of Trump’s Unprecedented Expansion Of The Global Gag Rule

    Trump’s Executive Order Reinstated The Gag Rule And Quietly Expanded Its Scope -- CNN And Fox News Didn’t Report The Consequences

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On January 23, President Donald Trump issued an executive order reinstating and secretly expanding the scope of the global gag rule, an anti-choice restriction banning the U.S. from providing foreign aid to nongovernmental organizations that privately fund or promote abortion care. A Media Matters study found that in a week of evening coverage on the three major cable news networks, only MSNBC reported on the disastrous consequences of Trump’s reinstatement and unprecedented expansion of the global gag rule.

  • By Shutting Out Pro-Choice Leaders In Convention Coverage, Cable News Feeds Abortion Stigma

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Cable news outlets effectively silenced the voices of pro-choice leaders by showing only a small part -- if any -- of their speeches at the Democratic National Convention. In doing so, networks fed the stigma around abortion, which is already prevalent in the media, and thereby contributed to anti-choice misinformation, which can manifest itself in dangerous laws closing abortion clinics and even violence.

    Fox News ignored Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards’ July 26 speech at the Democratic National Convention entirely, while CNN played a portion of it and MSNBC ran part of the speech in the corner of the screen with commercials over it, so viewers could not hear her words. Fox also ignored NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue’s July 27 speech at the convention, while CNN and MSNBC showed convention scenes while she was speaking during commercials and panel discussions, but included no audio of Hogue’s speech and did not indicate that Hogue was speaking.

    Media have pointed out that the speeches were both groundbreaking. Richards was the first speaker to mention the word “abortion” on the convention stage so far this year. Hogue “broke new ground,” according to Yahoo News, by discussing her decision to have an abortion.

    Networks’ reluctance to air the speeches feeds into existing abortion stigma, which can be defined as “a shared understanding that abortion is morally wrong and/or socially unacceptable.” One of the main manifestations of abortion stigma is “personal and cultural silence around abortion.” Silencing those who publicly discuss abortion or share their own abortion stories is a way of feeding that stigma.

    Media are no strangers to abortion stigma, which can take many forms in the news, including use of misleading b-roll footage of babies during news segments about abortion. Media figures also reinforce the idea that abortion is a risky and cruel procedure by parroting conservative talking points while discussing anti-choice regulations on abortion clinics. Hollywood is also guilty of feeding stigma about abortion, by not treating it like the “routine medical procedure” that it is.

    Abortion stigma’s prevalence in the media can be extremely dangerous because it leaves room for misinformation about the procedure, which is all too common. Lawmakers have adopted abortion myths and misinformation to promote anti-choice legislation and TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws, and these mistaken concepts even made their way to the Supreme Court. Even more dangerously, some anti-choice extremists use misinformation surrounding abortion to justify violence against providers. A series of videos attacking Planned Parenthood by the anti-choice group the Center for Medical Progress precipitated a ninefold increase in anti-choice violence.

    Abortion stigma is dangerous to women. By silencing the voices of pro-choice leaders, media are complicit.

  • Vox: Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards Was First Convention Speaker To Mention Abortion On Stage

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
    On Tuesday night, Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards addressed the Democratic National Convention in a speech that CSPAN was the only cable network to air in full. Richards was also the first speaker at the convention to use the word "abortion" on stage. 
    Vox’s Emily Crockett pointed out that reproductive rights advocates in recent years have pushed to de-stigmatize abortion, a campaign that involves encouraging people to publicly talk about a procedure -- including by naming it -- that one in three U.S. women will have in her lifetime.

    It might seem strange that Democrats, most of whom are pro-choice and willing to speak out against things like Planned Parenthood funding cuts, are often so reluctant to actually use the word "abortion."

    But it’s very common for Democrats and other pro-choice advocates to instead use euphemisms like "a woman’s right to choose." There’s also a tendency to implicitly apologize for abortion by emphasizing that federal funds for Planned Parenthood don’t go toward abortion, or to focus only [on] how great the organization's contraception and sexual health services are.


    In recent years especially, pro-choice advocates have pushed to fight the stigma against abortion in order to protect it as a fundamental right. They say that about one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, and many people don’t realize that abortion is a safe, routine medical procedure.

    Abortion should be treated like the normal medical care it is, advocates say, not separated out and turned into a political football. And they say that saying the word "abortion" like it’s a normal thing is one way to break the stigma and accomplish that goal.

  • Erick Erickson Compares Planned Parenthood President To A Nazi Doctor

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Conservative blogger Erick Erickson likened Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards to a notorious Nazi doctor, calling her "America's own version of Josef Mengele" and labeling Planned Parenthood a "mass murdering organization."

    Conservative media figures have used deceptively edited videos, alleging that Planned Parenthood was involved in the sale of fetal tissue, released by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress to compare the women's health organization to Nazis. Erickson previously referred to Richards as "the closest we have come in America to Josef Mengele" and has equated abortion with the Holocaust.

    In a February 24 blog for his website TheResurgent.com, Erickson asserted that Richards is "America's own version of Josef Mengele" because Planned Parenthood is a "mass murdering organization ... which chops up children and harvests their body parts for sale":

    At a time more and more open white supremacists are backing Donald Trump, America's own version of Josef Mengele, Cecile Richards, is praising Donald Trump's defense of her mass murdering organization.

    Richards presides over Planned Parenthood, which chops up children and harvests their body parts for sale, including storing whole children in freezers for later sale.

    Millions of children have died at the hands of Cecile Richards' organization and Donald Trump calls her organization "wonderful."

  • Fox's Stuart Varney: Cecile Richards Is A "Villain" And It's "Villainous" To Fund Planned Parenthood

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    During the January 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney joined Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in a discussion of Varney's villains of the week, which Varney suggested include Planned Parenthood or alternatively its president, Cecile Richards. Varney based his designation of Cecile Richards as a "villain" on the misleading portrait of the health care provider based on the deceptively-edited videos produced by the anti-choice organization Center For Medical Progress (CMP), named by Media Matters as "Misinformer of the Year." CMP's videos have been debunked by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, which called the effort "a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal." Multiple investigations into allegations against Planned Parenthood stemming from videos targeting the organization have found no illegal activity taking place.

    Varney concluded the segment by saying the organization should be blocked from receiving public funding, to which O'Reilly agreed. Planned Parenthood affiliates receives public funding from a few different government programs, either from Medicaid reimbursement for services provided or in the form of grants to provide sex education, birth control to low-income patients, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and cancer screenings.

    From the January 8 edition of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor:

    BILL O'REILLY: All right, villain number two.

    STUART VARNEY: Planned Parenthood.

    O'REILLY: The whole thing?

    VARNEY: Well if you want to pick on Cecile Richards, who runs the operation, let's do that.

    O'REILLY: All right, let's make her the villain.

    VARNEY: That's the villain.

    O'REILLY: All right, there she is.

    VARNEY: Now, Congress, or the Republicans, want to defund Planned Parenthood for one year. Cecile Richards says we don't want that. We're going to bring in Hillary Rodham Clinton. We are going to support her. She has access to $20 million worth of Planned Parenthood funds. OK, got that.

    O'REILLY: What does that mean?

    VARNEY: They have a pool of money.

    O'REILLY: Planned Parenthood.

    VARNEY: Yes, to which -- this is not taxpayer money. But that money is now available to Hillary.

    O'REILLY: In donations? In the form of donations? Planned Parenthood is going to fund her campaign this election? [CROSSTALK]

    VARNEY: Yes, to some degree.

    O'REILLY: All right.

    VARNEY: Look, my problem with this goes back to those tapes we saw last year.

    O'REILLY: Sure.

    VARNEY: I thought that was absolutely inhuman when you saw a woman describing how to crush a fetus, to maximize the body parts.

    O'REILLY: The harvesting of the organs.

    VARNEY: The harvesting, to crush [a] fetus for the best outcome for the money. [CROSSTALK]

    O'REILLY: It was terrible and clear-thinking people -- but I'm not sure about the villain thing because Planned Parenthood would support Hillary Clinton no matter what.

    VARNEY: But look, Bill, I don't want a dime of my taxpayer money going to support an organization which is --

    O'REILLY: But you just said it wasn't.

    VARNEY: No. We're trying to defund Planned Parenthood. That's what the Republicans - [CROSSTALK]

    O'REILLY: But that's never going to happen because the Democrats in the Senate will block it.

    VARNEY: Irrelevant. I don't want a dime of my money going to any organization that does that kind of thing. And I don't care whether you are on the left or the right.

    O'REILLY: OK, do you really feel that Ms. Richards in her belief system, which is abortion on demand, selling harvested body parts from dead babies' fetuses, depending on your point of view, do you think that that in itself is villainous?

    VARNEY: Yes. It is villainous to expect me to contribute to it and to force me to contribute to it through taxation. That is villainous.

    O'REILLY: They say none of that money goes to abortions or to harvesting of organs.

    VARNEY: When you saw that tape of the woman saying here's how you crush the fetus - [CROSSTALK]

    O'REILLY: It was appalling It was disgusting.

    VARNEY: That's absolutely inhuman. Out of bounds.

    O'REILLY: Immediately the president should have signed an executive order immediately freezing any tax money in there. That's what he should have done.

    VARNEY: In my opinion, yes.

    O'REILLY: But of course it's politics associated with Planned Parenthood.

    VARNEY: It's villainy.


    A Comprehensive Guide To The Deceptively-Edited Videos Used Against Planned Parenthood


    Fox's Varney Praises Deceptive Fiorina Ad Defending Her Deceptive Planned Parenthood Attack

    O'Reilly Attacks Planned Parenthood Following Shooting: PPFA "Deserves Much Of The Harsh Criticism"

    Bill O'Reilly On Planned Parenthood's Fetal Tissue Donation: "Many People Feel This Is Nazi Stuff"

  • GOP Committee Chair Brandishes Data Promoted By Right-Wing Media At Planned Parenthood Hearing, Doesn't Realize It's From Anti-Choice Group

    Media Fact Checkers: Chart "Makes Absolutely No Sense" And "Has No Y-Axis"

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Right-wing media have spent months promoting a deceptive data chart from the anti-choice Americans United for Life that on September 29 became the cornerstone of Rep. Jason Chaffetz's (R-UT) cross-examination of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards at a House Oversight Committee hearing aimed at defunding the organization. The chart's data is out of proportion and neglects to document numerous services performed by the women's health care provider to make it appear as if most of what Planned Parenthood does is pregnancy terminations.

  • Breitbart News Compares Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards To Hitler

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Breitbart News compared Planned Parenthood to Nazis, writing that the organization's president, Cecile Richards, "is well on her way to personally matching Hitler's body count."

    In the wake of the release of a series of deceptively-edited videos from anti-choice group The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) -- all of which have been consistently debunked and called-out by the media for showing no evidence that Planned Parenthood broke any laws in obtaining fetal tissue donations from consenting patients -- right-wing media were quick to compare the health care provider to Nazis.

    Breitbart News again pushed the comparison in an August 24 article that featured the Planned Parenthood logo in the shape of a Nazi swastika and stated, "Planned Parenthood has since 1970 performed 7 million abortions, comfortably surpassing Hitler." Going on to attack Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, the article claimed that she has "earned her 'half Holocaust' status" by "presid[ing] over three million abortions" during her time there:

    Planned Parenthood can attribute a good portion of their boffo baby-killing business to their president since 2006, Cecile Richards. Richards is well on her way to personally matching Hitler's body count. Breitbart has done the grim maths so you don't have to.

    Using a conservative estimate of 300,000 abortions a year -- or 300 kiloscrapes, using the technical metric measure -- Cecile Richards has presided over three million abortions, or three megascrapes in her ten years as president of the organisation. This has earned her "half Holocaust" status. Full Holocaust seems eminently reachable given Planned Parenthood's growing hegemony in the abortion industry.


    But under Richards the numbers have skyrocketed such that in just the last ten years, at least 3 million young lives were ended. If Cecile stays in her post another decade, she will reach "full Hitler," by matching the six million deaths of the Holocaust. In fact it'll probably be sooner than that, given the acceleration during her reign.


    There are many comparisons to be made here. Some of the revelations coming out about Planned Parenthood remind us of the ghoulish experiments of Dr. Mengele and the odious Unit 731 in Japan, both of which performed terrible tests on living subjects in the name of furthering medical science.

  • Eight Women Explaining Why The Hobby Lobby Ruling Is Dead Wrong

    Blog ››› ››› COLEMAN LOWNDES

    On June 30th, five male justices held that "closely held" for-profit secular corporations like Hobby Lobby are exempt under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) from the so-called "contraception mandate." Right-wing media predictably cheered and mocked women's access to contraception, even though the decision was based on a series of myths.

    Here are eight women explaining why the Hobby Lobby decision is dead wrong: