Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was appointed to the board of directors of the Ford Foundation in February of 2010. She was named chair of the Finance Committee, which has major influence in determining what organizations and causes receive grants from the Foundation. While the Ford Foundation has a long history of supporting liberal causes, Richards has already used her new position to further Planned Parenthood’s pro-abortion agenda.
Edsel Ford, son of Henry, established the Ford Foundation in 1936. The founding charter states that the Foundation’s resources should be used “for scientific, educational and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare.” For the past 75 years, the Ford Foundation has given grants to a variety of causes from energy conservation to art fellowships. It has a history of supporting reproductive rights causes, but since Richards joined the board, the Foundation has already taken a more antagonistic approach to Life.
Richards used her new position on the Finance Committee to ensure the controversial pro-abort group “Catholics for Choice” was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Foundation this year. The grant is to help the self-proclaimed “Catholic” group with “general support to assist Catholic policy makers…”
“Catholics for Choice” advocates abortion in direct contradiction of established Catholic Church doctrine. On multiple occasions, the U.S. Bishops have condemned “Catholics for Choice” as a fraudulent Catholic organization. It appears that Richards is backing “Catholics for Choice” as part of a larger strategy to pressure the Catholic Church to change its teaching on abortion. It should be noted that Richards is not a Catholic.
The Ford Foundation is also awarding large grants to the Center for Reproductive Rights. This legal group is based in New York and works to fight and overturn all national and state Pro-Life laws. The Center for Reproductive Rights is the group that is mounting a legal challenge to Texas’s new Sonogram Law.
The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) and Equality Now, two well-known pro-abortion organizations, also receive large grants from the Ford Foundation. IWHC has consistently pushed for unrestricted, legal abortion and had representation on this year’s United Nations Commission on Population and Development. Equality Now is currently spearheading campaigns for abortion access in Poland and Nepal.
This new connection between the Ford Foundation and Planned Parenthood further consolidates the power, influence, and reach of the abortion industry. Although it may appear to be a conflict of interest for the Planned Parenthood president to sit on a board that is awarding these grants to pro-choice organizations, there is no current legal basis for her removal.
Pro-Life activists and organizations need to remain vigilant in monitoring the grants that the Ford Foundation makes while Richards is at the helm of the Finance Committee. She will serve a six-year term on the board, and then may be re-elected for another term by the Foundation. It remains to be seen how many pro-abortion organizations and causes will receive large grants under her tenure with the Ford Foundation.