Culture Friday: Cecile Richards retires

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday the 4th of May, 2018.

Glad to have you along for today’s episode of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

It’s Culture Friday and time to welcome John Stonestreet. John is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

John, good morning.

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning, Nick.

John, Monday of this week was Cecile Richards’ last day in the office. The office, of course, as president of Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion business. Cecile Richards had a 12-year career there and the board of directors that hired her had to be pleased with her efforts and maybe sorry to see her go.

She really helped the organization weather a horrible public-relations storm, when undercover activists exposed Planned Parenthood’s baby-body parts trafficking side business.

But it’s another sort of survival that Cecile Richards touts, and that is a survival of taxpayer funding for the organization.

I’d like to play a short clip from day one of civilian life for Cecile Richards. She appeared on CNN to tout her book and to talk a bit about current events. She stressed, in that appearance, her political prowess.

And this is consistent with some things that I have heard her emphasize in other interviews. I’ve heard her sort of savor the point that Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer subsidy will outlive the congressional career of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is leaving this year.

RICHARDS: Obviously this last year, managed to beat back this administration’s efforts to defund Planned Parenthood or block women from coming to us, so I felt like it was time for me to, you know, step aside.

Well, John, your appraisal of Cecile Richards’ efforts.

STONESTREET: Well, yeah, and I think what we can say is that she was very good at her job. She oversaw the expansion of Planned Parenthood. She oversaw… I’m just going to say it this way: a lean, mean, killing machine. That’s what Planned Parenthood was and it was able to solicit and achieve government funding at a level that, you know, bigger than any time in its history. And to do it through changing Congressional leadership.

It’s really stunning that with this being the number one issue by which conservative politicians get the support of social conservatives that it has continued to go on this way with almost no progress. At least on the national level.  

But, you know, it’s hard to say whether in the long run Planned Parenthood will fully recover from the body-parts scandal, whether in the long run the cultural backlash against the sort of abortion rights that Cecile Richards championed, which was kind of all or nothing, whether that will continue on in the future.

There certainly does seem to be a change of opinion happening with younger generations and at least an overall mood swing to at least bring some sort of curbs and limits to America’s abortion situation, which is really among the most liberal in the world.  

In the long run I’ll say this: I do think that the public tide on abortion will swing. I think the only thing that has held abortion rights to where they have been in recent years, it certainly hasn’t been the science, it hasn’t been the technology, it hasn’t been kind of the gut-level response that people have to abortion, it’s really only been the fact that A) this issue has been so heavily politicized as a right issue and so much of our culture, in terms of the cultural elites, are poised to the left. Secondly, I think our cultural addiction to relativism. It’s a big difference between saying, “I think abortion is wrong and I think abortion should be illegal,” and in a culture of relativism, especially young people haven’t been able to make that jump yet.

And the third thing is just our addiction to sexual freedom as the highest good. And so you add those three things up and that kind of gives you Cecile Richards. The question is will history look back on someone who championed such barbarism in a favorable light. And my guess is ultimately the answer to that will be no.

Well, hey, here’s another clip from Cecile Richards that I think is worth discussing. The CNN interviewer brought up last weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. And she replayed that tasteless joke that had to do with abortion and asked Richards to comment on it. And here is what Cecile Richards said about that:

RICHARDS: Well, I mean, she’s a comedian. That was her job. Um, this isn’t a topic that I make jokes about, because of course I see what women face in this country just to access this care and how much stigma and shame there already is in America. Um, I think she was also making the point that a lot of the folks, male politicians in particular, who rail against access to safe and legal abortion do so until it’s something that they actually find benefits themselves.

Now, there could be any number of things that Richards could be referring to, or the comedian, for that matter, but what comes to mind, to me, is the story of former Congressman Tim Murphy. He was a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, pro-life voting record, obviously anti-Planned Parenthood. He had an extramarital relationship and when the mistress informed him she might be pregnant, Murphy recommended an abortion. Obviously totally hypocritical, obviously, and he is out of office.

But what I found interesting was how Richards characterizes this: that abortion is a benefit to philandering men. And for a public-relations expert to make a comment like that, that seems kind of a mistake. What do you think?

STONESTREET: Well, I think there are two public relations mistakes, actually, here. The first is admitting that she didn’t find Michelle Wolf’s routine funny.

Isn’t laughter sort of supposed to remove stigma not add stigma? And, listen, if abortion is really no big deal, why not kind of make jokes about it? Why not laugh at at it? The very fact she finds it so serious betrays the fact that she knows something significant is going on.

And I think that’s one of the things that pro-abortion advocates have been forced to admit. I mean, the former president of NARAL in Vanity Fair magazine said, Of course it’s a human life, but it’s a human life we’re sacrificing when she was describing abortion just a few years ago. So the cat’s out of the bag on that and that’s just one of the many inconsistencies. And so that question is, well then what is the moral nature of an unborn child? What’s the thing that’s being betrayed by her refusal to laugh at Michelle Wolf’s jokes.

But this other thing is an interesting one, too, isn’t it? Because I think in this culture, the post-#MeToo movement culture, we’re starting to see people who once were heroes become villains. And it’s only a matter of time before that gets revealed.

And there’s enough stories of kind of goofy frat boys showing up at pro-abortion marches with sort of get out of jail free cards from Monopoly games. You’ve heard these things because they know, they know that as Mark Regnerus has talked about in such clear ways that the sexual revolution and all of its lack of glory from encouraging women to behave sexually like men, to disconnecting sex from marriage, and disconnecting sex from procreation has basically put men in charge of the sexual marketplace and abortion is one way to do that. It’s their ultimate get out of jail free card. I mean, you think about it, and this isn’t 100 percent of the cases, but the vast majority of the cases, if the father of the child says, “Hey, I’m with you and I’ll support you and I will support this child,” then that child is safe. If the father says, “Hey, we can solve this problem through abortion” then that’s what puts that child at risk. And, suddenly, this thing that supposedly gives women power over their sexuality and control and that sort of thing… No, no, no. Ultimately, what we have seen is it’s the ultimate get out of jail free card for, as you said, philandering men. And that’s why you see the hypocrisy and we see the same thing in churches.

And this is that culture of relativism, Nick, that I was talking about earlier… where it’s like, “Oh, I’m against abortion except in three cases: Rape, incest, and my case.” Right? And that my case is different and I need — well, that’s that relativism that runs at the heart of far too many people of faith and culture at large. And it does. It ends up being, again, a get out of jail free card for men.

Alright. John Stonestreet, the president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Always good to chat with you. John, have a great one and we’ll talk to you next time.

STONESTREET: Thanks, Nick.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) In this July 26, 2016 file photo, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards waves after speaking during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. 

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