An Open Letter to Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood


Dear Ms. Richards,

You don’t know me, and I suppose you never will — but I feel compelled to write to you because you’ve been at the forefront of my mind as of late. Some might say that you and I are on opposite ends of a seemingly neverending battle — you, a well-known figure, and me, somebody 99.99% of the world has never and will never know.  I’m writing not with the intent of changing your mind, but with the intent of correcting some misconceptions you may have of me and others like me.

I am a twenty-something woman, a wife to a wonderful man and mother to a cute, round little six month old. I believe in working hard and working with excellence. I believe I have value as a woman and have gifts and abilities to contribute to society. I am thankful for my freedoms and believe in the right to exercise those freedoms within reason.

And I am also fiercely pro-life. 

The recent videos released by the Center for Medical Progress are videos that I have shared on social media and talked about with others. I have also followed the limited mainstream media coverage, including your responses to these videos. You have consistently stated that these videos originated from people who are “part of the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement that has been behind the bombing of clinics, the murder of doctors in their homes, and churches…”

For one who hates being categorized and defined by practices that are allegedly only 3% of your offered services, I find it ironic that Planned Parenthood is so quick to label those who oppose what you do as violent extremists who commit violent acts such as bombings and murder — when in fact, those incidents are the exception. I know there have been instances in history where pro-lifers have acted out in horrendous violence, and I don’t condone those actions — but let’s look at this present situation accurately. CMP has had no history of violent acts, and the vast majority of those who identify as “pro-life” are not violent either, because that sort of violence  contradicts the very values in which pro-lifers claim to believe: that all life is precious.

Based on your interviews and statements that I have seen and read, It would seem that a person cannot be pro-life and also care for and love women at the same time. I take offense at this view, and I just want to briefly share why.

I’ll be honest and say that I have never experienced a crisis pregnancy, and so I have never had an abortion or even considered having one. But I have sat across from countless women in that very situation. I have stood beside women in the moments when they have first realized that they’re pregnant. I have sat in strained silence with women who agonize over a decision that is portrayed as being easy, normal, or just another medical procedure — like getting your tonsils removed. I have seen tears shed by women who are still dealing with an abortion they had many years ago.

I have helped women get connected with prenatal care and with treatment for STIs. I have helped women with applying for Medicaid, with receiving free or low cost maternity clothes and baby furniture. I have signed women up for parenting classes and have participated in workshops that educate women about their fertility. I have spoken with women over the phone as they process their decision. I’ve met women for coffee to talk not only about their anxieties about being a new mother, but also just about life in general. I’ve explored the option of adoption with women who were wrestling with the moral dilemma of abortion. I’ve visited women in the hospital to meet their new babies, and I’ve been to their houses months later to see how life is going. I have told women again and again how valuable they are, how they are of immeasurable worth, and have encouraged them to make wise decisions regarding their sexual lifestyles.

I’ve been able to take part in all of these things. And never once have I connected anyone to a local Planned Parenthood.

I am sharing this for two primary reasons: (1) I know firsthand that it is more than possible for women from all walks of life to receive healthcare and guidance from organizations other than Planned Parenthood. It happens every day. And (2) it is also possible to both care for women and be pro-life (or “anti-abortion” or “anti-choice” to use the mainstream media’s preferred buzzwords).

There seems to be this idea that to be “pro-life” means that I want to deny women all of their rights and send us back to the dark ages where we are seen but not heard and most definitely not viewed as equals. There could be nothing further from the truth.

Yes, I care for women, and I would actually venture to say that I care for women more than you do. That is why I am irrevocably pro-life — because of the more than 56 million little unborn women (and men) who have had their bodies ripped, shredded, and dumped into waste containers.

The little girls — and yes, I can say “girls” because science has shown that gender ( as well as eye color, hair color, and other defining characteristics) is determined at the moment of conception — who will never see the light of day because their choice to live was ripped from them just as they were ripped from their mothers’ wombs.

The little girls who are given names such as “products of conception” or “clumps of tissue” so that their mothers will more easily be able to justify such a decision.

The young women who, within the counseling room are “not a baby” or considered human, but back in the lab spread out in pieces on a table are valuable precisely for the fact that their livers, neural tissue, and hearts are human livers, human neural tissue, and human hearts.

These tiny women and men are stripped of their humanity for the simple fact that they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because they are small, dependent, and at early stages of development, their rights are deemed nonexistent at worst, and less valuable than their mothers’ at best.

Science, contrary to what mainstream media reports, no longer debates whether or not life begins at conception, or whether all major organs are present and functioning by just the eighth week of an unborn child’s life. By eight weeks from the LMP, brain waves are detected; eyes, ears, fingers, and toes appear; the heart has already been beating; the baby has reflexes, her own blood type, and her own fingerprint. Never in the history of the world has a pregnant woman brought forth a baby animal, plant, or inanimate object — the unborn life is distinctly human. In fact, Planned Parenthood’s participation in procurement of human fetal tissue testifies as much.

I feel as though I could talk for days about the mountains of evidence showing us that these “products of conception” are nothing less than a miraculous human being. In fact, this evidence makes the industry in which you work and profit all the more frightening to me, because I realize that Planned Parenthood no longer has a leg to stand on in the “it’s not a human life” debate.

The fact is that we all know. We all know what abortion is and what it does. We know.

And I know that you are an intelligent woman — I can tell this is true by the way you speak and carry yourself. And that is why I believe that you also know. You know what abortion is and what it does. You know that you lead an organization that slaughters children. You may hide behind clever semantics, behind words such as “termination” and “products of conception.” You wave your “right to choose” and “women’s rights” banners. You talk smoothly and convincingly about making abortion safe, legal, and rare, and the right to not be pregnant.

But you know. You know.

And I hope you know this: that as long as I’m breathing, I never plan to stop caring for women — both the women experiencing crisis pregnancies, and the women who are yet to be born. I will never stop trying to speak for the ones who have no voices.

And I hope you know that there are hundreds of thousands just like me who also will never stop speaking and fighting for the rights of the unborn, regardless of whether or not this practice remains legal or PP remains government-funded. “Legal” is not synonymous with “moral” — and someday when we look back on the monstrosity of the abortion industry and have to explain “why” to the generations after us, the “it was legal” argument is not going to hold any water.

And lastly, I hope you know this: that you can leave this blood-stained industry any time you want.

You can choose to help women have access to safe health care without fostering a culture of death and destruction.

You can choose to connect pregnant women with families who long to adopt a son or daughter of their own but are unable to conceive naturally.

You can choose to teach women how to live with sexual integrity and to take responsibility for their actions rather than looking for an “easy out” through abortion.

You can choose to walk with these women before, during, and after a pregnancy rather than leaving them to sink in the guilt, depression, and mental anguish that so often follow the act of abortion.

You can be part of a movement that rejoices and celebrates the miracle of life even in the midst of less than ideal circumstances rather than continuously ending life and diminishing the immeasurable value of children.

You can choose.

And if you do so choose, I hope you know that we who are fighting for life — fighting for women — will welcome you with open arms.


Mary Holloman

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