In a recent interview with W magazine, the outgoing president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, remembered discussing abortion with Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, shortly after President Trump's inauguration. Looking back on the meeting nearly a year and a half later, Richards noted in her interview that the first daughter didn't really have much to say. This, Richards told the magazine, was not acceptable for a woman who ostensibly represents women around the country. Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment from Ivanka Trump and Kushner.
The interview was framed around the release of Richards' new book, Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead, which was released on April 3. The memoir reflects on her career in pro-choice advocacy, including her tenure as the head of the nonprofit reproductive health care provider.
As part of her work for Planned Parenthood, Richards said she agreed to the low-key meeting with Trump. Her intention, she said, was to explain in detail to the first daughter and her husband what Planned Parenthood actually does and how it functions.
"I was skeptical about that meeting, but I felt like if there were an opportunity to convince two very powerful people in this administration about the importance of preserving Planned Parenthood funding and access, you know, I had to do it," Richards said. "Unfortunately, I think it really did come down to some kind of political deal that Jared Kushner wanted to make."
Richards went on to recount how Kushner offered to help continue funding Planned Parenthood if the organization ceased offering abortive services — a major tenet of the Republican platform. Richards said that she declined this offer. (Planned Parenthood is not in the federal budget and it is already illegal for federal dollars to go toward paying for abortions.) When reports about the meeting initially surfaced, it appeared as though both Trump and Kushner had attempted to broker this failed deal. The way Richards described it in W, however, suggests that Kushner did the majority of the talking.
Trump, for her part, has long made "empowering women" part of her brand and one of her most frequently-used talking points, but has generally balked when pressed about her personal views about a woman's right to access abortion. Richards said that, during her meeting, Trump deferred to her father's official stance on abortion: opposing it. According to Richards, that's all Trump had to say about the topic.
Richards decried this response from a woman who has made her career all about giving women more access to economic empowerment. "So my criticism of her isn’t as a daughter of the president — it’s that if you’re supposedly in charge of advancing women’s situations in this country, then show up," Richards said. "And for God’s sake, you can’t be trading away women’s rights. That’s not a very effective goal."
In October 2017, the Center for American Progress reviewed Trump's work on empowering women and families. It concluded that, thus far, she had entirely failed to deliver on her talking points, and it awarded the first daughter an "F."
"Ivanka Trump has the opportunity to be a force for policies that help women," the center wrote in its report. "But so far, her work has amounted to little more than photo ops and tweets, and she has failed to articulate a set of concrete policy solutions to address women’s diverse experiences and challenges."
Specifically, it referenced her pledges to tackle paid family and paternity leave, child care, equal pay, and "federal responsibility to promote equality and uphold women’s rights," among other goals. For each of Trump's pledges or goals, she was awarded an "F," a "D," or an "incomplete."
On the campaign trail, Trump campaigned tirelessly for her father. And since he won the election and was sworn in, she has long continued to defend him and his policies in the press. But, even before becoming president, he has long been criticized for how he treats, talks to, and neglects women's rights. Necessarily, this puts Ivanka Trump and her entire brand at odds with much of what she has been working for over the last couple of years. Even in a meeting with the president of Planned Parenthood, Richards said, this didn't change.