After days of staying silent on the subject, Texan Cecile Richards confirmed Friday morning that she plans to step down this year as president of Planned Parenthood.
But in a short video released Friday morning and a national television appearance the night before, she didn't do much to tamp down speculation about her future. Instead, Richards pledged in her video message that "Planned Parenthood has been part of the fabric of this country for 100 years, and ... it'll be here for 100 more."
"It has been an incredible honor to be a part of this organization — as a patient, as president and now, as a lifelong supporter and champion," she said Friday.
She appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah late Thursday and demurred when asked about reports that she was resigning. Those reports launched speculation that Richards, who worked as deputy chief of staff to Nancy Pelosi, a leading Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, might seek public office herself.
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"I'm not here to make any announcements or pronouncements," she told the comedian late Thursday. Asked whether she might run for office, she said, "I don't know what my future holds."
In an interview with the New York Times, she was a bit more emphatic: “I’m not thinking of running for anything,” she said.
Richards has led Planned Parenthood since 2006 and is widely credited with expanding the organization's fundraising and advocacy profiles. Richards, a Waco native and the daughter of late former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, has often returned to Texas to advocate for the organization against the "legislative assaults" of anti-abortion state leaders. And she famously helped rally crowds at the Texas Capitol on a pivotal June night in 2013, when former state Sen. Wendy Davis filibustered a restrictive abortion bill.
Buzzfeed first reported Wednesday that Richards, who now lives in New York City, would step down after more than a decade at the helm of the women's health organization.
Her departure comes at a time of particular urgency for the organization, which many fear will face renewed attacks from a Republican-dominated federal government.
Disclosure: Planned Parenthood has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
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