In her new memoir, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards shares a "surreal" encounter with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner in which he reportedly offered to secure more federal funding for the reproductive health nonprofit—if it agreed to stop providing abortion care to women.
"Honestly, it felt almost like a bribe," Richards writes in "Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead," which was released Tuesday. "It was surreal, essentially being asked to barter away women's rights for more money."
At a meeting where his wife Ivanka Trump was also present, Kushner told Richards her organization "had made a big mistake by becoming 'political,'" according to the book.
"He described his ideal outcome: a national headline reading 'Planned Parenthood Discontinues Abortion Services,'" writes Richards, who announced recently that she would step down from her position as president later this year.
Planned Parenthood clinics first provided abortion care in 1970, when the procedure was legalized in New York. The organization also offers preventative care to women and men, STI testing, cancer screenings, and other health services.
The Hyde Amendment, passed by Congress in 1976, prohibits any of the $500 million Planned Parenthood receives in federal funding from going towards abortion care except in cases of rape, incest, or when a woman's life is in danger. Nonetheless, Republicans have waged aggressive attacks on the organization for decades, threatening to de-fund the group if it continues to provide abortions.
Contrary to Kushner's suggestion that Planned Parenthood "became political" when it began offering abortion care, the group's mission has been under attack by conservatives since its founder, Margaret Sanger, opened the nation's first birth control clinic in 1916. The clinic was raided by police and shut down after only nine days.
A century later, the Trump administration moved to expand employers' right to deny women access to birth control through their insurance coverage—clearly displaying conservatives' goal of attacking Planned Parenthood's overall goal of allowing women to take control of their reproductive health.
In response to Kushner's suggestion, Richards writes in her memoir, she informed him that her mission "is to care for women who need us, and that means caring for all of their reproductive needs—including safe and legal abortion."