‘Roe’: Cecile Richards on Abortion Struggle, Planned Parenthood and Texas Fear

In the week since the Supreme Court overturned the country’s standing law that codified people’s rights to choose their own personal health and economic freedom, a sense of helplessness and doom has arisen. Women have flooded websites selling abortion pills and hotlines offering access to birth control. Pharmacies, faced with strong demand, have rationed Plan B. President Joe Biden has now said he will work to codify abortion rights and end the filibuster to do so, but women are terrified — rightly so — that without roe deer, and with Justice Clarence Thomas urge the court to introduce contraception, what comes next?

In this week’s episode Inside the hive, Cecile Richards, who co-hosted Planned Parenthood from 2006 to 2018 Emily Jane Fox a roadmap for protecting our rights. “We need to tell the people who did this to them because this didn’t happen because a small group of right-wing extremists made abortion illegal,” Richards said. “This happened because the Republican Party decided nationally that this was their top priority.”


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Richards, daughter of the former governor of Texas Ann Richards, spoke about how this decision affects everyone in the country, and the extreme fear she is witnessing.

She told Fox about how draconian abortion laws in Texas are playing out in real life and becoming templates for other states where rights are dwindling by the day. Richards and Fox discussed the current political reality in America, how the tyranny of the minority rules over every common sense and true will of the people, what voters should focus on in November, and what politicians should do to actually hear their voters.

An abridged and edited version of their conversation follows.

Vanity Fair: How have you been feeling since we heard the news about? roe

Cecile Richards: Like many people, I fluctuate between white-hot anger and despair. Being from Texas and having been in close contact with the people there over the past few months, I already know what it’s like to live in a country or state where you can no longer access safe and legal abortion, but even make fundamental decisions about pregnancy. We’ve seen everything in Texas from young women thrown in jail to people unable to talk to a high-risk OBGYN about a very complex pregnancy, and everything in between. I don’t believe that’s the country Americans want. But we will have to fight hard to fix this.

What have we seen in Texas this past year that is a preview of what’s to come in at least nine of the states that have changed their laws since last week?

First we started seeing people rushing as soon as they thought they might even be pregnant because of course the law in Texas is that you can’t have a legal abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and that just creates a kind of general panic. I’d say the number one emotion I’ve heard is fear, that women feel like they’re living in a police state. They don’t know who to trust. They have this bounty system where people can be rewarded and make money by declaring anyone who helps someone access an abortion. There are so many examples—everything from a woman who came in who had passed six weeks and found out she needed a surgical abortion. That would mean driving to New Mexico – Albuquerque was the closest place. But she couldn’t because you would have to go through a border post, and she couldn’t. Women show up to Planned Parenthood who had a miscarriage but were denied hospital care because [the hospitals] don’t know what the rules are. And everyone is terrified of being reported to the authorities. So it’s just the range of fear. The inhumanity is unbelievable. And of course, so many women you hear about who have never left the state of Texas in their lives, threw all their kids and their families in a car and drive to Colorado. And a lot of these people have gone to states that now don’t offer abortions either, so especially if you look at the map, it’s pretty overwhelming.