Last night, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, joined The Rachel Maddow Show to make it clear that Planned Parenthood's doors will stay open – no matter what – and that Planned Parenthood's millions of supporters will stand up and fight back against attacks on women's access to reproductive care, and fight to protect women's rights and civil rights.
Rachel Maddow: We're also seeing today some of the largest women's health advocacy organizations in the country, including NARAL and Planned Parenthood, really bracing for the worst, but insisting that their doors will stay open. The president of Planned Parenthood put out a statement today, in response specifically to Donald Trump winning the presidency:
"We will never back down or stop fighting for the people who come from communities that need our continued support in this new reality. Every day our staff wake up and open their doors. They'll do so today, they'll do so tomorrow and every day as they have for a hundred years."
These are meant to be, of course, comforting words on a day when women across the country are concerned – and rightly so. My question though is for the people who work in this field of civil rights, for the people who work on reproductive rights, under all the pressures they've been under all these years: is there a doomsday plan for a time like this? For Mike Pence as Vice President, the Republicans in control of the House, the Republicans in control of the Senate and a conservative majority, potentially a big one, on the Supreme Court? Joining us now is Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. Thank you for being here.
Cecile Richards: Good to see you, Rachel.
RM: Am I right to ask about a doomsday plan? Do you see this as a doomsday scenario for reproductive rights?
CR: Look – Planned Parenthood has been around for a hundred years, as you said. We've been fighting for rights to reproductive health care for that long. As we said today, our doors stay open – and they will. It has been kind of extraordinary, we have thousands of supporters around the country who took to social media last night immediately, and folks have been dropping off baked goods at our health centers. But one of the most interesting things has been the number of women who have called and made appointments for birth control and IUDs, things that are covered by the Affordable Care Act at no cost because they're concerned about the fact that Donald Trump will follow through on his pledge to overturn the Affordable Care Act. We're seeing lots of new patients coming into the health centers.
RM: Do you think that Roe v. Wade is at risk?
CR: Absolutely, it was on the ballot in this election. Now I know that Mr. Trump has said in his acceptance speech that he said he would govern for all Americans – not just those who voted for him. I hope that includes women. Because women overwhelmingly did not vote for him, particularly women of color. If he is going to represent all Americans, the right to safe and legal abortion is a right women have had in this country for more than 40 years and it is supported by people by all parties. It is important and we'll absolutely be fighting for a justice to the Supreme Court who supports this right for women.
RM: I don't think you will get a justice of the Supreme Court who will support this right for women.
CR: That's what we fight for every single day.
RM: In terms of winnable battles and basically how you're asking people to absorb this information, I said something at the top of the show about sort of understanding what the sources of civic strength are in our country. That we have a democracy and that's really important but we have other things that are really important: independent judiciary, professional military and a civil society and all of these things. For people who want to recommit themselves to the things in this country that they can control that they think are good for the country – people who care a lot about what you're saying about reproductive rights – what do you think people can do?
CR: People have to join organizations and join movements that represent their point of view and their values. Look, I'm incredibly heartened even in this very difficult year we've had, leading up to this election for Planned Parenthood – we gained 600,000 new supporters. We're now at more than nine million supporters in the US. If you're doing the math, that's one-and-a-half times the membership of the NRA. Putting that movement into action is something we do every day. We'll certainly do it under this presidency to fight for folks' rights. But we do need a very robust civil society in this country. And I believe you will see that. As you were saying, we're seeing it in the streets tonight. One of the most encouraging things to come out of this election is that young people are overwhelmingly progressive in this country and they're taking action and, to me, that's where we're investing in Planned Parenthood. It is a whole new generation of folks who believe in LGBT rights, they believe in women's rights and civil rights and voting rights and criminal justice and immigrant rights. This the time when people have to get off the sidelines and join a movement.
RM: This is a time to do something you haven't done before.
CR: Absolutely – and that's what we're finding, yes.
RM: Cecile Richards is president of Planned Parenthood. Cecile, thank you.
CR: Good to see you, Rachel.