Eva Lilienfeld, News Editor
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards returned to Iowa this past Sunday, Jan. 25, to speak to the Grinnell Community in support of Hillary Clinton. Four years ago, Richards made the same visit to Grinnell to support President Obama’s campaign.
Planned Parenthood’s endorsement of Clinton represents a revolutionary move, as the organization has never before endorsed a candidate in the primaries. Richards explained the ground-breaking endorsement.
“[Hilary Clinton has] been a champion her entire life for families and for women to get access to care and rights, not only access to reproductive healthcare, but also equal pay and opportunities for advancement,” Richards said at the public event on the second floor of the JRC. “It’s not that she would be a champion, it’s that she has been a champion.”
According to Richards, Planned Parenthood invited all presidential nominees, including Republicans, to interview for the endorsement, but only Democratic candidates agreed to interview.
Though other Democratic candidates stood for women’s rights, Planned Parenthood’s decision to endorse Clinton was ultimately due to her lifetime of work in gender equity, particularly Clinton’s work with families at the Children’s Defense Fund early on in her career, and her work in addressing gender and human rights internationally as Secretary of State.
“[Clinton] was the one who said, ‘Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights,’ and that has stood the test of time,” Richards said.
Much like other supporters on Clinton’s campaign, Richards stressed the significance for preventing a Republican presidency. For Planned Parenthood, specifically, it could mean drastic changes to their federal funding. She explained that since the presidential election of 2012, former House Speaker John Boehner, Republican, risked a government shutdown to request that Obama withdraw federal funding from Planned Parenthood. According to Richards, Clinton, if elected, would continue to fight for the right to access healthcare in spite of Republican resistance.
“It was literally President Obama who stood in the breech of Republican leadership and millions of people in this country’s ability to access healthcare,” Richards said. “That’s leadership, and when the chips are down we need people to stand and fight.”
Fellow for the Clinton campaign and leader of Grinnellians for Hillary, David Leitson ’16, stressed that Richards’ visit was crucial for the Clinton campaign with the upcoming caucus, especially because of the seemingly divided support of Grinnell Democrats.
“Bernie supporters are more vocal on campus and tend to be louder, but I think there’s definitely a division in the Democratic Party,” Leitson said.