NEW YORK — Hours before news broke that Ivanka Trump had sought and received a secret meeting with Planned Parenthood's President Cecile Richards in January, Richards criticized the first daughter for her continued silence on women's health care.
“Anyone who works in this White House is responsible for addressing why women are in the crosshairs of basically every single policy we've seen in this administration,” Richards said of Ivanka Trump while speaking at the Women in the World summit in New York City Wednesday evening.
On Thursday morning, Politico published an article revealing that shortly after Donald Trump's January inauguration, his daughter requested a sit-down with the president of the women's health organization that her father had vowed to defund.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Planned Parenthood confirmed the existence and timing of this meeting with Ivanka Trump — who recently became a senior White House official with security clearance and a West Wing office — calling it "cordial and informative."
The purpose of the meeting "was to make sure that Ivanka Trump fully understood the important role Planned Parenthood plays in providing health care to millions of people and why it would be a disastrous idea to block people from accessing care at Planned Parenthood," the group wrote.
They added that one of the main topics discussed was the idea that "defunding" the women's health organization is a "misnomer," something Richards and spokespeople for Planned Parenthood have made a point of frequently emphasizing during the most recent health care debate over funding.
During her father's campaign, Trump positioned herself as his adviser on women's issues. She spoke about equality in the workplace and maternity care, but notably avoided the subjects of birth control and abortion. When her father partnered with the anti–abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List to write a letter vowing to defund Planned Parenthood, pass laws restricting abortion, and to select an anti-abortion Supreme Court justice, Ivanka Trump was not visibly involved and did not comment.
In the January meeting, Planned Parenthood said that Richards explained to Trump that the "funding" the organization receives from the government is in the form of Medicaid reimbursements for providing care for low-income women and is "not a budget line item." Another frequent clarification Planned Parenthood makes about funding is that no government funds go toward abortions due to a federal law called the Hyde amendment. It was unclear whether this clarification was a part of their conversation with Trump.
“Senior staff at the White House, including Trump, play an influential role in shaping the Administration’s policy and negotiations with Congress," Planned Parenthood added, "which has a profound impact on women’s health and lives."
Wednesday night was not the first time Richards had criticized the president's daughter's silence on women's issues since their post-inauguration meeting. In a conversation with BuzzFeed News the day Congress was supposed to vote on a bill defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing Obamacare, Richards called Trump's silence "deafening" and said, "It's time for Ivanka to ... stand for women."
In an interview with CBS's Gayle King Wednesday morning, Trump indirectly responded to Richards' criticism of her silence, saying that critics should not "conflate lack of public denouncement with silence."
"Where I disagree with my father, he knows it," she said.
Despite President Trump's promises to strip Planned Parenthood's Medicaid reimbursement if they continue to provide abortions, he had spoken in defense of the organization during his campaign and was known to support abortion rights in the past.
“Millions and millions of women — cervical cancer, breast cancer — are helped by Planned Parenthood,” Trump said during a February 2016 presidential debate. “I would defund it because I’m pro-life, but millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood.”
Representatives for Ivanka Trump and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ema O'Connor is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
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