On May 18, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, will be Barnard College's commencement speaker and will receive the Barnard medal of distinction, the college’s highest honor.
In an email to students last week, Barnard president Debora Spar and Barnard dean Avis Hinkson, announced the decision by praising Richards. "Throughout her career, Cecile Richards has advocated for civic engagement and public participation as essential components of law-making and the political process,” the email reads. “Now, as head of Planned Parenthood, she is at the center of the ongoing national dialogue on women’s rights and health. Her extraordinary insight and experience will inspire our graduates, whose own lives and careers will contribute to the future of these critically important issues for women everywhere.”
Left unmentioned was that Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider, and the organization's legislative agenda is far outside the American mainstream. In February, Richards stirred controversy when she was asked during a televised interview, "When does life start? When does a human being become a human being?" Richards responded, contra biology, "I'm a mother of three children. For me, life began when I delivered them. They've probably been the most important thing in my life ever since. But that's my own personal decision, right?"
Last year, Richards was criticized for being unable to explain the difference between the actions of murderous abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who killed children outside the womb, and late-term abortion.
Planned Parenthood has been waging a high-profile lobbying battle against late-term abortion, despite the fact that the U.S. is one of only 7 countries that allow the practice, and the majority women support a ban on late-term abortions.
Already Barnard students are speaking out against the selection of Richards. In an op-ed for the Columbia Spectator, Barnard senior Kate Christensen decried the college for choosing such a divisive commencement speaker:
By choosing such a controversial figure, Barnard implies that students who take deep offense to this choice do not have valid concerns, and their beliefs do not matter. Choosing a speaker of such moral and political controversy seems to assume that the opposing minority will be shamed into silence for their beliefs and will take this decision more or less sitting down. Perhaps Barnard, in whatever calculus it is doing, does not care about offending and isolating students like me, families in attendance like mine, or beliefs like the ones I hold.