President Donald Trump hasn't been a champion for reproductive rights at all so far, but in a move that will surprise critics, Politico reports that his daughter Ivanka held a secret meeting with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. Shortly after the election, Ivanka and Richards met to establish common ground despite Trump's promises to defund the women's healthcare organization.
Richards agreed to speak with the first daughter to explain the truth about the program's governmental funding, a source of major controversy over the past few months.
“The main thing that Cecile Richards was doing was explaining that the money doesn’t actually go to abortions—we [Planned Parenthood] get reimbursed the same way a hospital does. We were clearing up misinformation about how this works,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told Politico.
Misconception is at the root of the push against Planned Parenthood. While clinics do perform abortions, the most popular services are STI/STD testing and treatment, according to the program’s latest annual report. In fact, abortion services only account for three percent of the total, with 323,999 procedures completed in 2015. Richards wanted to draw attention to the crucial care Planned Parenthood provides in the area of women’s health, including cancer screenings and prenatal care.
But even after this meeting, Ivanka refused to comment on Vice President Pence’s tie-breaking Senate vote to waive the rule banning states from withholding Planned Parenthood’s family planning grants.
While defending her passivity in an interview with Gayle King, Ivanka Trump stated, “I think there are multiple ways to have your voice heard. In some cases, it’s through protest and it’s through going on the nightly new s and talking about or denouncing every issue on which you agree with. Other times it is quietly and directly and candidly.”
Whether critical or supportive of Ivanka, it's important to consider the belief that silence is acceptance. In a male-dominated government, Ivanka's refusal to take a stance could be perceived as not only hypocritical but also wasteful. As a woman in one of the highest positions of power in the world and a self-proclaimed supporter of women’s rights, the first daughter has a chance to really make a change—and so far, she hasn't used it.
Women may not be able change Trump’s sexist policies, not even through his own daughter.