An Open Letter to Planned Parenthood Leadership – The Feminist Wire

An Open Letter to Planned Parenthood Leadership

By Zillah Eisenstein

Dear Cecile Richards,

You are amazing, along with the huge Planned Parenthood apparatus that delivers health care and reproductive freedom to millions of women and men. THANK YOU for all that you do and continue to do.

I have been a keen supporter of Planned Parenthood for most of my lifetime and even more so in these last years as the Right Wing of the Republican Party has put Planned Parenthood under such fire and assault. Nonetheless, you and your colleagues across the country have continued to stand courageously and defiantly for all women’s rights to their bodies and their health.

So this makes it all the harder for me to question and disagree with the endorsement Planned Parenthood has just made of Hillary Clinton for President, 2016. I, along with many progressive feminists who have invested care and money in Planned Parenthood, cannot support this endorsement. It elicits an unwarranted level of support for a candidacy that does not stand strongly and visibly enough for an inclusive notion of womanhood and humanity, as well as reproductive justice.

To endorse Hillary Clinton is to allow Planned Parenthood to be used on behalf of her support for war as a necessary form of politics; to continue the unwise silencing of her foreign policy initiatives in Iraq, Libya and now Syria; to dissect the politics of race and class from the lives of women, especially in these named countries; to endorse her non-intersectional approach to women’s lives; to accept her privileging of her whiteness and of all white women’s privilege in relation to women of other races and ethnicities.

I will always support Planned Parenthood in the way it supports any woman who walks through its doors. But I do fervently wish you would have followed your inclusive and democratic vision of women’s health and reproductive rights before handing over so many of our voices to the Clinton campaign. In endorsing Hillary Clinton for President, you have spoken for millions of Planned Parenthood supporters throughout the U.S. without us agreeing to this.

Instead of endorsing HRC, feminists who believe in peace, anti-racism, women’s bodily rights, and economic and racial justice must stand as an alternative to the limited neo-liberal/imperial politics of the moment expressed in this dismal 2016 presidential campaign. Anti-racist/anti-imperial feminists need to make Hillary Clinton—who may well become our next leader—uneasy and uncertain about her exclusionary mind-set, and we must demand accountability for a more just world.


Zillah Eisenstein


Black Lives MatterZillah Eisenstein has been a Professor of Politics at Ithaca College in New York for the past 35 years and is now “Distinguished Scholar in Residence” there. Besides her recently published THE AUDACITY OF RACES AND GENDERS: A PERSONAL AND GLOBAL STORY OF THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN (2009, Zed Press, London; Palgrave, U.S.), her books include among others: SEXUAL DECOYS, GENDER, RACE AND WAR IN IMPERIAL DEMOCRACY (London, Zed Press; New York, Palgrave, 2007); AGAINST EMPIRE, ibid.; HATREDS: RACIALISED AND SEXUALIZED CONFLICTS IN THE 21ST CENTURY, (Routledge, 1996); GLOBAL OBSCENTITIES: PATRIARCHY, CAPITALISM AND THE LURE OF CYBERFANTASY (NYU PRESS, 1996); and MANMADE BREAST CANCERS, (Cornell Univ. Press, 2001). For more information see:


  1. Sylvia Taylor Smith

    January 19, 2016 at 10:31 am

    I donate, volunteer and work at Planned Parenthood and I agree with Zillah Eisenstein! I am utterly dismayed by this pre-nomination endorsement of Clinton.

  2. Pauline Park

    January 20, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    Brava Prof. Eisenstein for an important statement of feminist principles and intersectionality in the face of a craven and disgraceful endorsement of the anti-progressive, anti-feminist Hillary Clinton~! Women need to resist the siren sound of superficial identity politics; it’s not about who has a vagina — Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi all had one, but none of them were progressive or feminist — it’s about which candidate will advance a progressive and feminist policy agenda.

  3. Maura Stephens

    January 22, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    This is a good start, but I would take it much further.

    I too am deeply upset about PP’s decision to endorse Hillary Clinton (who, let’s remember, was formerly OK with calling herself Hillary Rodham, or at least Hillary Rodham Clinton after she added her husband/former president’s last name) over a truly progressive candidate like Bernie Sanders (who is not perfect, but beats Clinton on all but one or two issues).

    Clinton is a demonstrated war-monger and a corporate partner who has so many Wall Street ties it is nearly impossible to track them all. Among her lifetime campaign donors are some of the most abusive of taxpayers, most polluting, worst-for-women’s (and everyone else’s) health and well-being corporations on the planet, such as Citigroup and Goldman Sachs (via their PACs and associates).

    As Jeff Cohen reminded us in a piece for Consortium News: “In 1992, a 44-year-old attorney [Hillary Clinton]made the following remarkable assertion: ‘For goodness’ sake, you can’t be a lawyer if you don’t represent banks.'”

    Donors to the Clinton Foundation include ExxonMobil, General Electric, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Coca-Cola, Duke Energy, Monsanto, the rightwing Newsmax Media (a major media player in GOP politics that once published a piece, later taken down, that suggested a military coup to “resolve the Obama problem”), and a group called 100 Women in Hedgefunds(!), among many otheres.

    The Consortium News piece goes on to list a few of Barack Obama’s corporate ties and asserts: “The only way to reverse this dangerous trend is to tell the truth about and challenge corporate Democrats – including Clintonites and Obamaites – whenever and wherever feasible.”

    Planned Parenthood supporters, of which I have long been one, can join Zillah Eisenstein in doing so now. Thank you, Dr. Eisenstein, for this piece.

    Donations to Clinton Global Initiative, the Bill/Hillary foundation (see pull-down menu with number amounts):

  4. Pingback: An Open Letter to Planned Parenthood Leadership; Dear Cecile Richards | Zillah Eisenstein