Cecile Richards confirms she's stepping down as president of Planned Parenthood

Cecile Richards confirmed Friday she would be stepping down as president of Planned Parenthood after 12 years with the organization.

Richards made her announcement with a video and a series of tweets. In a statement, Richards said leading the organization has been “the honor of my lifetime.”

“Planned Parenthood has been a trusted resource in this country for more than a century, and I will be leaving the organization well-positioned to serve and fight for our patients for a century more,” Richards wrote.

She said she would not stop being an activist and would continue “to travel around the country advocating for the basic rights and health care that all people deserve.”

Richards, 60, did not immediately say who would take over her role. But she told The New York Times she planned to meet with the board to discuss a replacement.

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Richards, a self-described life-long activist and daughter of former Democratic Texas governor Ann Richards, also worked as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff until she went to Planned Parenthood.

Under her leadership, the organization gained in membership and donor support but was constantly in conflict with social conservatives for its role as the leading abortion provider in the United States.

Planned Parenthood, which receives $500 million annually in government subsidies, has endured repeated efforts by Republicans in Congress to cut its funding.

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During Richards’ tenure, several congressional committees investigated the organization’s role in providing post-abortion fetal tissue to researchers. 

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stands with Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, during the Planned Parenthood 100 Years Gala in New York,U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton - RC1240C377C0

Cecile Richards with 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.  (Reuters)

It was not immediately clear what Richards would do next. However, her memoir “Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead – My Life Story” will be published in April. She told The New York Times she planned to help Democrats campaign during 2018 midterm elections. When asked by the Times if she planned on running for office or follow her mother’s footsteps of running for the governor of Texas, Richards replied: “I’m not thinking of running for anything.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.