Ep. 115 - Cecile Richards

Update: 2017-01-231


Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, talks with David Axelrod about growing up in deep-red Texas as the daughter of prominent Democratic activists, the gains made in women’s health over the past eight years, and in what ways that progress may be lost if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

the board for the acts files comes from rockin' mortgage my Quicken loans lift the burden of getting a home loan with rockin' mortgage and get a secure transparent home loan approval in minutes skip the bank of the waiting then go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files This podcast is brought you by sixty DB listen to conversations that go beyond the headlines business sports politics today's news plus all of your favorite podcasts download the free sixty DB at today the The The The and now from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN The X Files with your host David Axelrod the the of all the debates are going these days in the wake of a new administration a of the debate over women's health women's rights are front and center and front and center in that debate is Cecile Richards the leader of Planned Parenthood we sat down the day before President Trump took office to talk about these battles and where leave the the Cecile Richards welcome good to have you here you know um I've done a lot of these and I always sort of ask people how they came to be interested in what they do in house and normally it's politics I have to ask you that this was like you are a requirement of birth I talk about growing up in your household shore now I guess as sort of born under lucky star I was for Texas The Texas Star yes proud to be a Texan if not somewhat displaced but now my Mama's Ann Richards who I met my dad was Dave Richards Group and was born in Waco which is also bragging rights I think but really grip and Alice and my folks were just involved in every movement that came through Dallas Texas it was a very very tough time then you know I I was a young very young person when Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and I think that really in some ways to remember that absolutley mainly because they let out school I and we lived in add on in Park City near SMU and it was very concerned by my parents were sort of I'm not in outliers complete outliers and if it was just destroyed my family I mean my mother was at the luncheon waiting for the president to arrive and my father what he was a lawyer downtown so he was waving at the motorcade right as the president's car rounded the bend and into the Lee Plaza and then of course with the Oswald Ruby assassination it just felt like Dallas have really come unhinged and I just remember as a child it was a very frightening time my parents pulled us out of school and went camping because they just they were worried that the world was really coming apart so that was a really important part of my growing up but as important was that my parents are involved in every movement I mean it was a no show Mom and I want to talk to her but talk about your dad yep so my dad was is still as an un reconstructed liberal and he go and that air I was a civil rights lawyer he was was defending conscientious object or is it the Vietnam War he was working for labor unions which again were really really on the left fringe of Dallas Texas and we eventually moved to Austin where which is a much more hospital to and then my parents began taking all of us as kids to march and wars marches against the Vietnam War and during every counter cultural thing that existed but that was really my upbringing as a My father was certainly as important in my upbringing as my mother in fact I became a union organizer right out of college largely because influence my father and the Boston scene was not just politics with the music everything I remember going with my parents to this old it was an airplane airplane hangar that what had been abandoned with a guy named Eddie Wilson and this is just as we move to Austin and he said I have this vision this is going to be the greatest music hall ever in the state of Texas and of course Eddie opened armadillo World headquarters which did become really the epicenter for music and my upbringing I mean we saw everyone and that of course lives on today Austin now is where the music Capitals of the country Willie Nelson was paella absolutely Willie and he just can go through the list and and it was funny because no one ever has to come to Austin that once when Sadie opened the armadillo every big act came through town now it was really great is a great time you you went off to college yes and then but you knew when to be a labor organizer from the start no no I just knew I wanted to be a troublemaker I didn't know what kind I didn't I I mean I started really early in junior high school wearing a black armband to school i and Westlake High School which was unheard of and being called the principal's office and that was made for my first awakening to Boise we met the principal before I thought this is this is really something and I went off to college and got involved in the divestment movement on South Africa was involved in attempts to stop in the Seabrook nuclear plant you name it every issue that was that was on campus at Brown I got involved and then eventually night when I graduated I decided to move the Rio Grande border and organize government workers should as should have asked you before that about your mom's involvement in politics and how really that started I know she was involved in the campaign for Sarah waiting to new thing comes around full circle from incredible signature person in the in the movement for reproductive rights lawyer who who brought the Rover says Wade case but you wonder when did your mom serve actively get involved in politics well says In those days she raised all four of us and she was one of these Housewives who had so much more to give and but there were a lot of opportunities so actually when Sarah Wellington was going to run for the Statehouse know guys wanted to run her race and some moms of all do it and that was her first really professional job was running series race and serve as kids we all got involved and then she liked it so much she decided that she would run and she eventually ran for county commissioner which of course was unheard of for women and wine and then became state treasurer and then of course made an important and really bold move to run for governor state of Texas and was governor for four years in you were involved in the camp we all were back in the days when campaigns were kind of family come home I mean my husband I were living in L A at the time with her young daughter but we packed up the U haul and pulled up stakes and came back home and helped work for mom and were proud to live there and during the time of her administration she had from the outside this larger than life persona mean as big as Texas correct to talk to me about her as a person that our own struggles absolutely she had her own struggles and again was really public about them and she was a recovering alcoholic and talk to you aware of that when you were a kid absolutely because we all went through we went to treatment with or are we but again it was interesting day it was way before the time that going to treatment was something that people talked about publicly it was extremely shameful and the understanding about addiction and alcoholism was very low it was a really tough time for her might you know my parents split up after that it was it was it was really difficult but she felt so important to be human and to show her warts and all and so she talked publicly about her her recovery I still am stopped by women in airports all across America who say I remember your mom because she helped me get sober yeah you know I I've talked about this often on this podcast because Ed issues issues in my own family mental health issues these these are these illnesses absolutely and the more we talk about them as illnesses and not as stigma is people going to get help and it's going to save lives so I so admired her for for making it a cause right of hers so but be on that dumb to talk talked about has a personality well she she did have a huge personality and again even I I think back on if in her era when she was raising all of us if she had more opportunity she could have done a lot earlier on so I think by the time she finally did get to express herself through politics it was like a lot of pent up energy and a lot of gifts to give but she was always the center of whatever was going one and Ann in Texas and again I think it a day when women had certain prescribed roles she was particularly the new and different and I think today a lot of people say A Wish politics was like it use to be where people just sort of were more authentic and actually spoke to people I know she did a lot of work with a lot of politicians and I said Look at my if my mother back in Waco can understand what you're saying you've got to really think about it and I think she did she really believe that public service was calling and that there were people that were depending on you she I mean it's hard for people to imagine in two thousand and seventeen a liberal woman from Austin were getting elected governor of Texas obviously Texas politics has changed but how did she had she managed that there was a conservative state even that it was a conservative state even then but I think you know looking at what's happening today around the world she was a populist she was she talked she grew up with depression era parents who scrapped and save never graduated from Junior High worked all their lives and she had that same kind of ethic I think she had an ability to reach people across party lines up across economic lines and I think that was a large part of her success and you know she was always really popular I think when she got was defeated you know in her re election by George W Bush exactly and so many things is so interesting now how history for the road right for tomorrow but even even when she was defeated by George Bush was still very popular they just uh she was too liberal probably was for the state of Texas tough years well it was a very happy or That's right yeah what do you think she would have advised Hillary Clinton this year was she sitting at her side I mean she was of course a friend of Hillary's and she would have been the strong I knew Hillary back Hillary was around Texas early seventies helping in the presidential campaign of George McGovern a thing that's right and of course mom was very close to President Clinton who was also there yes there's at least they had again Southerners I think they they shared a lot I think she what she would be the first essay it's always been the toughest for the first woman it's just going to be so tough and look I think Hillary was as tough a tough competitor and Canada as you can expect for it from any woman running running for office I think she would've been really proud of or for making the race because it's always easier not to do it and someone had to be the first I thought of it because you mention this populist instinct that you mom had was at missing from the campaign oh I don't know if it was missing out I mean I think part of it is what the news covers and so that's a whole nother story the news was very different back then and don't think that certainly mom's race was uncovered in the same way it's interesting that David I actually read article about this a comparison of my mother's race against Clayton Williams yes a candidate who was a big Internet hit certain Trump like very interesting he was a businessman had ever done anything in public service really that was his entire background made jokes about rape was you know it was and and in many ways those comments and the fact that the very end of the race just the last week he revealed that he never paid taxes or hadn't recently that was what ended his campaign in many ways and if you ask why Mom was I was like a lot of things kind of came together at the end and so this a very different time to think that some of these very same issues came up and in seemingly didn't didn't penetrate with a pop with the voters do you think that Texas will will there's always been the stalk tears this mythic thing Texas and coming Texas is going to turn purple Texas is going to ultimately turn blue because of the demographics of the state do you do you think that yes but isn't a lot of work and I mean one thing you can't underestimate is well two things one is the Democratic Party has been practically nonexistent now for many many years other than some pockets and so it means a lot of buildings to huge state it's not like turning a state that's that's small and you have to have a candidate who can win and east and west Texas and the suburbs and you know it's interesting Democrats now do very very well in the urban areas and that there's a big sweep and in Harris County Houston but you have to the campaign has to be about a lot more than than the urban hse that day is coming and definitely the demographics are changing but we have extremely low voter turnout in the state of Texas I think there's a whole population of folks who just are in a pattern our voting think they probably think it doesn't matter it doesn't make a difference of folks really have to change that I feel encouraged and we do a lot of work in Texas now and young people there are motivated and excited I think there's real opportunity tell me about the Texas Freedom Network and because I know that was what your handiwork and really sort of part of what led you to where you are now well I started the Texas Freedom Network after mom lost because I like a lot of folks thought well we're going to really now stand and organize and fight for things like public education and women's rights and also it was the time David which I know you remember when the Christian Coalition became sort of this incredibly effective political machine patrol the state of Texas and many folks give them credit for George Bush's victory and they delivered this very strident kind of right wing message and I knew that wasn't what Texans were about and so we organize clergy and folks were involved in public schools school board members to make sure to try to push forward moderate policies at the State Board of Education is my first non profit to start but I kind of looked around I thought well if no one else is going to do I need to and it's now been around for many I think does great work on areas of education women's rights LGBT rights so it's it's lasting it's a little bit of a lasting legacy in I'm very proud of them you ever think of running yourself for office I mean along over the years I know you you have this lofty position not to that but you did you think about the rain you got to you've got a great name you've got all you got all the moves are welcome for David Axelrod that's pretty huge to rethink this I sure thought about it and folks talk about it sometimes actually I do feel like they're people who are running for offices are in their blood and that's what they want to do that's the way they want to make a difference in the public sphere and then I think there's folks on the outside to run important organizations an advocate for important issues and that's always been just sort of where I felt most comfortable and I will get to it but it's really proud of the work we do here and looking back its last eight years with President Obama I feel like it was so important to have an inside outside operation here and being able to work with the administration to make progress for women was crucial yeah I want to touch about that um but yeah I raise it because one of things that worries me right now is that the cynicism wins and that people begin to look at politics as an unappetizing way to pursue change and to make an impact and that that's to me the corrosive to democracy I worry about good people saying you know this is this isn't for me and thats are antithetical to what this whole deal is about you know we need to Ann Richards of our time to stop I'm not trying to persuade U N But hundred percent I completely agree and I don't run for office has nothing to do with anything you just said it was really more where do you wish all of us who know you haven't you're having a big social justice is where you make the biggest impact I actually have been somewhat buoyed by the number of women in particular who have now filed to run for office since the election who seem to be encouraged but you're right we have to nurture our democracy this is not a given thing and I think that it's time folks abandon the field then that would be really that's I that's what I say but the state of Texas it's not in some ways we're not a red state blue state where a non voting state and that's when you really don't have a democracy you you you and your husband Kirk Adams who's a brilliant organizer in his own right came to DC and and you began to get involved in this movement talk about that transition well the sort of left Texas because we kind of like we done we could do their three kids and I went to see the world it was a great great time to be here and I had that pleasure working for Natalie for Ted Turner for a while doing some organizing work there when he and Jane Fonda were or doing really fascinating work through their foundation and then I got to work for and Ms Pelosi at the time she became the highest ranking woman in the House of Representatives and that was that was an exciting time so I learned alot from our time here for some big personality that just grazed by one but won't work for some Ted Turner yes it was interesting you know back in two thousand and eight when Obama was running for president Ted Turner gave a contribution and they finally met and Ted Turner said Baraka just when you know I gave you a contribution and I'm not asking for anything and Obama put his hand and Ted Turner shoulders to Ted you don't need anything I I I I love to enter and he was always and you're right maybe I'm attracted to big personalities but he was so outspoken would say the same thing to see you sitting here today as he was on CNN which of course always interesting over His creation yes CNN right so yeah no lists of big personalities make things make things happen wouldn't take a short break and we'll be back with Cecile Richards rocket mortgage by Quicken loans proudly supports the X Files when it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender it's important to work with someone you can trust leisure best interests in mind with rockin' mortgage you'll get a transparent online process that gives you the confidence you need to make an informed decision skip the bank skip the waiting and go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files equal Housing lender license in all fifty states and MLS consumer access dot org Number thirty thirty so let's talk about where today first post about the last eight years of um there's a lot of reckoning going but what is the impact of the Obama years and his presidency you had a very close look at this from your position here at Planned Parenthood talk to me about your sense of those years on the issues that you care about I mean profound impact on women and on women's health and access to healthcare I mean it's an interesting way as were and now seeming to re litigate again the Affordable Care Act and health care coverage in this country the most popular things that happen in the AC as you know because you were such a huge part of this were the leveling the playing field for women making sure that women didn't have to pay more for health insurance than men and making sure that we could get in coverage even with pre existing conditions and then of course a hard fought but important battle over getting preventive care coverage for women and not no cost now fifty five million women who have access to no cost family planning and which isn't just important because that say right now that was established and they CA but read a thirty year low for unintended pregnancy in the United States of America it's where the proudest things I've ever got to be involved in and because it makes is making everyday a difference in the lives of women what are the metrics on preventive care in terms of people actually accessing it it's one thing to say they have access to but do you see in participation rates the impact of the Affordable Care Act in terms of people taking advantage of of free preventive care well I just I mean there's probably a million ways to measure at bat one is that women actually the very first year of the Affordable Care Act before even all of you know it because a lot of folks were getting grandfathered in the very first year women in America save one point four billion dollars on birth control pills and say which is very interesting because now course we have a nominee for HHS who said women have never never causes never been an issue we see a plan period everyday women who are making choices between birth control pills and groceries or rent and young women in particular so the day and the number of women who ride in to us or post their picture of their zero co pay on Facebook I know and we see our health center level the number of women who are now accessing better methods of contraception because they don't have to worry about cost and can choose what's best for them U um obviously become a target in this AC a debate in this repeal effort defunding of Planned Parenthood is it is part of the the mix in the Republican legislation in Congress what impact would that have on the service you provide and talk about the services you provide to us from it's much broader than simply birth control certainly abortion services which are proscribed in terms of federal right funding right now I'd like to be we are we right health care to about two and half million folks every year and the vast majority of services we provide preventive care so they are family planning birth control but also cancer screenings and for many women just there Well Woman annual exam is at Planned Parenthood we provide how would you say well I mean to have million so the tune of million patients about ten percent are arm and so the stillness all women and about a million and half are on Medicaid and actually to get to the heart of the cure your question what's at risk here when Paul Ryan said the other day he was going to put defining plane painted onto this on a see a repeal I want to just be super clear there's no line item in the federal budget for Planned Parenthood we don't it's not like they can just take as our budget we actually just get reimbursed like every other healthcare provider so the proscribed States from reimburse anew every state and would end and essentially what it would do David say to women I don't care if that's your healthcare provider I don't care if this is the place you've gone to for years for preventive care you can't go there anymore and this is it would be I guess was asking before was how many women go there for basic sort of wellness you know for their annual exams I mean I don't have that the total numbers but upwards of two million and that's in every state I mean this is that this is one of the other things that any senator for voting to end the ability of folks go to Planned Parenthood is literally access in their in their own state Paul Ryan I mean women they're going to see plant in Racine would be able to go anymore and you know he said Speaker Ryan said were those services can be provided another through other facilities through health clinics community health clinics and so on and was actually absolutely untrue and the community health centers have said repeatedly and he knows this I mean I I don't know if he's intentionally misrepresenting the truth or what but they have repeatedly said we cannot possibly absorb the patience the plan period takes takes care of and that's true all across the board and a look at my home state of Texas as a cautionary tale where they did and the Women's Health Program they have blocked women from going to Planned Parenthood for things like cancer screenings we are now squeezing a doubling of the maternal mortality rate for women in Texas and this particularly is heading low income women and women of color particularly African American women have we seen less women be able to access birth control simply because the health care system and the dismantling of the public health care system particularly if they overturn the ACCA is going to create havoc particularly for women in this country who have the least access to care and Paul Ryan knows that and why that's why they were seeing this outpouring of the UK to get a phone call and his office anymore because of the outrage that put in including among voters who voted for President elect romp this is what they voted for you polls show even half of his own supporters support federal funding for Planned Parenthood it made him our patients the president elect has been a little ambiguous about his own feelings on this do you have you had any conversations with anyone associated with the administration on this issue know how it directly at all but you're right I mean I think this is this is Ben this has been a motivating issue for Vice President elect pants he is really to me the one who has been driving this entire agenda he's been against women's health women's rights in every way that was his crusade when he was in Congress and I think this is an agenda he's driving so I hope that the president elect and those around him will recognize that ending access to care for the biggest women's health care provider in the country is only going to send us backwards in time which were making huge progress on itself let me ask you to you someone said to me a woman who I respect said you know in a way the name Planned Parenthood and I know it's a good brand that say you guys poll well in the parlance of the president elect appreciates your ratings are good but this woman said to me in a sense
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Ep. 115 - Cecile Richards

The Axe Files with David Axelrod