Texas Monthly Talks

President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Cecile Richards

Cecile Richards

Web Extra

Full interview at klru.tv

Notes from Evan Smith

There was a time, inevitably, when she was best known as someone's child. "Inevitably" because we were all someone's child once, but the someone in her case was only the second woman ever to serve as the governor of Texas, and she was no shrinking violet. But being Ann Richards' daughter had many outsized benefits to go with the outsized attention, and one of them was an innate understanding, encoded right there in your DNA, that public service is both a responsibility and privilege — that we all have not just an obligation but an opportunity to champion our chosen causes and work hard to do right by our neighbors and make the communities in which we and they live strong and healthier and happier.  And so it is that this week's guest, Cecile Richards, came to be the apple that didn't, that couldn't, fall from the tree. The president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for more than three years, she works long days and through difficult fights to ensure that more women across the country, in big cities and small towns, and men too, have access to family planning and reproductive health care services.  To Planned Parenthood's opponents far and near, that means only one thing: abortion, which puts Richards in the white-hot center of a political war that's been waged for going on forty years and clearly isn't close to being over, as the recent controversy over the passage of health care reform legislation suggests. But the organization has always been about much more than the choice issue, and so has the professional life of Richards, who grew up at the knee of you-know-who in Austin and graduated from Brown University. She began her career organizing low-wage workers throughout not just Texas but other states as well, and she is the person credited with establishing the grass roots advocacy group the Texas Freedom Network. In 2004, she founded and led a coalition of voter registration and education groups called America Votes, and went on to serve as deputy chief of staff for then Democratic House Leader and now Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Like her famous mom, she's whip-smart and charming and funny and tough as hell all at once — in this job, you'd have to be, what with the slings and arrows flying your way.  The question remains whether, also like her mom, there's a job of another sort one day in her future. " - Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, Broadcast 04.08.10