CECILE RICHARDS

Last night Cecile Richards and her daughter Lily came to see the show. Cecile is the daughter of former Texas Governor, the amazing, indominable Ann Richards who died of cancer two years ago.

Cecile and Lily were deeply moved by all aspects of the play but particularly the mother/daughter relationship. I just received a very moving email from Cecile talking about her mother’s attitude toward death which were similar to my character’s in the play.

Cecile is the president of Planned Parenthood of America which is the primary health care provider to millions of women nationwide. Over dinner at Joe Allen’s, she told about the recent meeting on health care reform with President Obama at the White House; how very different the environment is now; how important it was that Planned Parenthood was invited in its capacity as a health care provider; how thrilling it is to have former Kansas governor, Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services; how the president was able to really listen and process what people said. We both hope that this administration will address adolescent health in particular, especially adolescent reproductive health. For example, African American girls are experiencing a real epidemic of HIV/AIDS. In my state of Georgia among adolescent girls in general there is an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia. We have to stop our long-standing ostrich behavior, get our heads out of the sand, stop looking at reproductive health care from a moral perspective and view it, instead, as a public health issue as is done in other parts of the industrialized world.

I got to know Cecile when she and I traveled the country together in 1998-9 talking about the potential treat to Roe v. Wade as well as comprehensive sexuality education and other aspects of reproductive health if George W. Bush was elected. Our concerns were well founded as the subsequent 8 years have shown. New rates of rising teen pregancy rates as well as STD increases can partly be blamed on the previous administration’s policies.

Looks like that is on the way to changing. Fingers crossed. No!! Too passive!! Voices raised!!!

See you next time.

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17 Comments
  1. Ann Richards..one of my favorite people in the world.
    I wonder what she would be saying about the sorry state or country is in right now.

  2. Awesome informative article !!

  3. They should have more awareness speakers like Pam Stenzel (Sex Has A Pricetag) public school education. Are you familiar with her? I’m new to your site & have not read everything you have on it yet.

    Thanks!

    http://www.pamstenzel.com

  4. Forgive my ignorance but I didn’t know about your play until I visit your blog just a few days ago.

    Your post is making me think about my love-hate relationship with my mother. I know I’ll be sorry one day when she’ll be gone that I didn’t put more effort in letting HER understand ME.

    It is hard when a mother don’t really “get” her child. No matter if the child is 5 or 55.

    I personally tried everything – talking, screaming, crying, laughing, being honest. Nothing worked with my mother. I’ll be forever small for her expectations. That is why I envy (in a good way) Mrs. Richards and her daughter for what they have!

    I’m not that lucky. But I still love my mother to death!

    P.S. I hope the President have a heart to listen and brains to do it.

  5. I am relieved that the new administration is once again standing up for womans reproductive rights! We have to gain back the ground we lost from the last 8 years. Let us move forward once again not backward as the Bush administration was taking us. Yes VOICES RAISED!

  6. Being a teenager myself, 15-years-old, I am going to be hated by all other girls my age when I say…YOU’RE RIGHT! Yes, an adult woman who has been there, done that is right! Imagine that? Hahaha. A lot of my friends on several occasions have told me they think they’re pregnant. Thats INSANE! I could never imagine being 15 with a baby. Most kids aren’t educated enough. It really is a shame. There is no one to talk to, no one to get advice from, no one to say “Look, i’ve been there and I know.” or “There is a way to stay safe and to keep yourself healthy.” I wish sometimes I could bring every single one of my friends your book and make them read it. A lot of people ask me why I read the book because I’m so young. I tell them I’m glad I did. I’m VERY glad that I read your book at my age. Sure, I’m going to make mistakes in my life but there is so much that I will take from your book that I know is going to help me. Thank you for that. And thank you for reaching out to teens. If you wrote a book on learning how to deal with things such as sex, pregnancy prevention, stds, emotional problems as a teen then I sure as hell would read it! And I’m sure TONS of teens will find help from that book.

    Kelsey.

  7. “Planned Parenthood of America which is the primary health care provider to millions of women nationwide”

    How are they a primary health care provider if all they deal with is sexual related issues?

    I guess they could be a primary health provider for people who only have sex and do little else.

    Did anyone see the video out of the 5th Planned Parenthood clinic criminally covering up sexual abuse?

    http://www.youtube.com/LiveActionFilms

  8. Jane:
    My husband took me to NYC this weekend to celebrate my birthday. We saw three shows, “33 Variations” being the final one today. The play is amazing and you are wonderful…absolutely wonderful! I’ve already made it known that we must head back to the city to see it again soon. I can’t wait!

    Thank you for sharing your gift. I’m sure to remember this birthday for many years to come.

  9. Natasha’s passing is a reminder that you’re never too young to die. She was a wonderful actress ( I saw her and Liam in Anna Christie) and from what I have heard from the various media outlets she was also a beautiful person.

    We keep our loved ones alive, who are gone from this world, in our memories. We don’t think of them every moment but sometimes a song, the sky, or eating a bagel ,reminds us of how much we miss them.

    Sorry to hear about Zach’s dad. I met Zach at a mutual friends wedding (sadly they are no longer together) a few years ago and had a nice talk with him about movies and acting.

    I look forward to seeing Jane’s show when I get back from California. I’m playing piano in a group that’s part of a Jazz festival in Eureka California and I am already having nightmares about flying.

    Full catastrophic thinking will get me nowhere!

  10. Hi Jane,

    I support your views on better sexual healthcare and education. Here in the UK, we have the highest teen pregnancy rate in all of Europe and STIs are on the increase, dramatically.
    It breaks my heart and I hope our government step up their campaigns as much as Obama ssems to have done.

    And I love your saying “Fingers crossed. No!! Too passive!! Voices raised” LOL. It sounds like something Eve Ensler would say and I’ll be using it from now on if you dont mind!
    Love reading your blog, please continue to write after the play has ended and I wish I could see it – maybe you could bring it to the West End…???
    Love from Ashleigh.

  11. Amen sister! As a long time Pro-Choice activist, it was just terrible to witness all that GWB did to reproductive rights in this country. To have Obama in office now, I am finally hopeful that we can get REAL about disease and pregnancy prevention for teen girls. First a vegetable garden, next an informed electorate.

  12. Hello. I saw 33 Variations on March 21. The man sitting next to me asked if I was there to see you or hear the classical music. Honestly, it was to see you (I wouldn’t take a 5 hour bus ride to NYC @ 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday for just anyone), but the play was thoroughly enjoyable.
    Thank you for your humanitarian efforts and sharing your story with the world. I have read your autobiography twice and have urged my girlfriends to read it too. It does have many universal themes to it and really resonated with me. Hope you continue to live your life with so much courage, creativity, and generosity! Best wishes.

  13. Even though I was in high school during the Bush administration, I was lucky enough to attend an academic establishment that disregarded the “abstinence only” program and stuck to teaching “safe sex” and how to protect yourself from STDs. I’m guessing that since it was public school, perchance they weren’t supposed to teach anything except “abstinence only,” but I live in an area where teen pregnancy is an epidemic. So thankfully my teachers disregarded Bush’s idiocy and ignorance by addressing teen health issues instead of pretending all 16 year olds have enough self-control not to have sex.

    Jane, thank you for raising your voice.

    Best,
    Amanda

  14. I miss Ann Richards.

  15. there is a chlamydia epidemic in my area of the country too (fort wayne, indiana). plus around here, in the past, having babies in high school or right after h.s. was common. a woman was considered an old maid by 23 so starting young was the norm. now, thankfully, attitudes are changing. teenagers and young adults are still having babies but men are more involved and finishing school for both parents is expected.

  16. I heard about your support of Planned Parenthood, as well as your own organization from Cecile’s emails to national PP employees. Thank you for being such an intelligent and eloquent advocate for sexual and reproductive health, especially for underrepresented groups such as teens! You rock, Jane!

    Thanks
    Kate in Oregon

  17. “America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters”
    And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.” (Mother Theresa — “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)

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