News | Student Life

Planned Parenthood president will speak at Barnard commencement

  • PLANNED SPEAKER | Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, will speak at Barnard's commencement ceremony at Radio City Music Hall on May 18.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, will speak at Barnard College Commencement on May 18, Barnard President Debora Spar and Dean Avis Hinkson, BC ’84 and TC ’87, announced in an email to students Thursday.

“Richards is a nationally respected leader in the field of women’s health and reproductive rights, and her unwavering dedication in the fight for access and education is a true inspiration,” Spar and Hinkson said in the email.

Richards will receive the Barnard Medal of Distinction, the college’s highest honor, for her work on women’s health and reproductive rights.

Several members of Barnard’s class of 2014 said they were pleased to have Richards as their commencement speaker, but understood that students and their families with more conservative political viewpoints might not be so keen on her selection.

“I am really excited,” Leah Metcalf, BC ’14, said. “Planned Parenthood is at a really important place in its history, so I’m happy that we are showing our support for a crucial institution at this time.”

Mia Shapiro, BC ’14, who used to volunteer at Planned Parenthood during high school and whose grandmother serves on the board of Planned Parenthood in Florida, said that she is enthusiastic about Richards being the commencement speaker. She added that Planned Parenthood’s work goes beyond abortions, and that she hopes people can see Richards from a less politically polarizing lens.

“I think that what she represents—women’s health—is something everyone at Barnard can get behind,” Shapiro said.

Kate Christensen, BC ’14 and the president of Columbia University College Republicans, said that the choice was too political for the occasion.

“I think that it’s unfortunate that­—at a time like graduation, where families and friends, and classmates and the whole community in general are supposed to come together in celebration—that a speaker who is divisive was chosen,” Christensen said. “I think it’s a shame that the politics of the day might overshadow or shade the true purpose of why everyone is there.”

Nikki Weiner, BC ’14 and vice president of the class of 2014, said that she heard Richards speak on television in support of Barack Obama, CC ’83, during his reelection campaign, and stressed the need for people to draw a distinction between Planned Parenthood and politics.

“I think this is an amazing voice to come to separate those two things,” Weiner said. “This is about individuals and what we think of ourselves and how we care for our bodies, and there should be this distinction. Politics shouldn’t be so influential when it’s Planned Parenthood.”

“She is an activist committed to a very important cause that affects women across the board. And not only women—it affects women and men,” Stephanie Fernandez, BC ’14 and president of the class of 2014, said. “I think she is an exemplary woman that’s committed to a cause, and regardless of individual’s political views I think that’s an important message to the class of 2014.”

Spar and Hinkson also announced that Mahzarin Banaji, social psychologist and professor of social ethics at Harvard University, Ursula Burns, SEAS ’82 and chair and CEO of Xerox, and Patti Smith, acclaimed musician, poet, and artist, will be awarded medals at commencement. 

Burns, who was also the class day speaker for the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2012, is the first African-American woman CEO to run a Fortune 500 company. She is also major advocate of women pursuing careers in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“I think it just demonstrates the continuous accomplishments of women of color as allies of Barnard and of the country,” Fernandez said.

“I also think though, this is a liberal arts college,” Weiner said. “I love the diversity in these three medalists. It’s awesome ... and I think that represents our class quite well.”

Fernandez said that while Burns and Banaji might not be easily recognizable names to many students, their work speaks volumes.

“We’ve had great speakers. We’ve had Hillary Clinton. We’ve had President Obama. Sheryl Sandberg. Meryl Streep. I think irrespective of the different fields that these individuals represent, they’re all really well-known,” Fernandez said. “But I think it’s also important to highlight incredible women whose names don’t necessarily ring a bell immediately.”

“There are great women across the world who are doing meaningful work and if their name is not well known, that doesn’t mean their work is less meaningful,” Fernandez added.

news@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

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Anonymous posted on

Planned Parenthood is to women's health as the Nazis were to trains running on time.

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Fun Fact posted on

"For doctors and medical workers, the woman bleeding from a botched abortion was a familiar figure in hospital emergency rooms in the 1950s and ’60s. Entire wards were given over to patients suffering from septic abortions. Women tried to abort themselves with abortifacients or irritants administered as douches: Lysol, soap, kerosene, vinegar, powdered mustard, bleach, among others. They used, or others on them, garden hoses, syringes, telephone wire, coat hangers, nut picks, pencils, catheters, and chopsticks. They were brought into hospital wards by the hundreds, bleeding from perforated uteruses. In 1962, for instance, Cook County Hospital in Chicago treated nearly five thousand women for abortion-related complications. Police crackdowns forced women to self-abort or resort to untrained specialists, with the result that deaths increased, doubling in New York City between 1951 and 1962. In the 1960s, they accounted for nearly half of maternal mortality."

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Anonymous posted on

Not so fun fact

In 2010 83,000 babies were aborted by their mothers in NYC alone--The children had no choice --and their demise was just as horrific for them as the botched abortions noted above, These abortions terminated 40% of all pregnancies in the city--giving nyc the honor of Abortion Capital of the US.

Unlike 1962 there is no shame in being a single mother and adoption is still an alternative. Materialism has become the driving force behind abortion--not the safety and welfare of the mother.

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Anonymous posted on

Actual people > fetuses

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Anonymous posted on

It was Mussolini who made trains run on time.

But your comment is valid. Perhaps Barnard should consider that Planned Parenthood aborts more babies in NYC alone than are killed in the entire USA by guns.

Barnard and Columbia , both inclusive and beloved institutions, may want to consider if they really want to alienate parents, donors and others by inviting these kind of groups.

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Anonymous posted on

90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions.

(#NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement)

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Anonymous posted on

Kate Christensen I hope you have something to say about this. This is ridiculous.

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BC '14 posted on

Proud to have her speaking at my graduation. A woman should be able to decide if she wishes to carry a fetus to term. If she makes the arduous decision to abort, she should have access the quality care without judgement or shame.

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Respect for LIife posted on

Really??? Maybe she should not have chosen to get pregnant in the first place, then change her mind at the expense of an innocent life! Don't even try to insult my intelligence by saying that she didn't "choose", she made a choice when she committed an act that could very well lead to pregnancy. That's where her "choices" began. The male is just as much responsible as well, so if a man and women don't want children right now, then DON'T have sex!!! It's really not that big of a sacrifice to make when the lives of innocent children are at stake. You want to be "strong", "Independent" and "powerful" women, then take control of when, where and how you have sex, outside of that, take RESPONSIBILITY for your actions!!!

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Alternatives posted on

Or the couple may be more careful by having "safe sex", which is part of the planned parenthood education. On the other hand, there are other special cases to consider, in which the woman is subdued, such as in rape or incest.

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Anonymous posted on

Having a polarizing political speaker is never a good choice. One has to think about an international audience of all ages, races, creeds, colors, religions, etc that must partake.

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Respect for Life posted on

Celebrating the slaughter of innocent children under the fallacious banner of a "woman's right to choose", how nice and special this is. What about all those that actually respect human life and want to attend this ceremony after 4-5 years of hard work and much money spent at Barnard? I hope that the REAL women of Barnard will stand up to the leftist ideologues that put political power before morality. This woman is wicked and evil and has no place whatsoever at a college graduation. Barnard do what's RIGHT and send baby killing slaughter machine packing!

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LOL posted on

get outta here, you clearly don't go to columbia. that, and you're stuck in the past.

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Respect for Life posted on

No, I don't "go" to Columbia, I teach here. "Stuck in the past"? Really, because I have values that served society well for many years and I disagree with terminating an innocent life that has no say in the matter? Because I am willing to stand up for those that have no voice? If that is being stuck in the past, then please young scholar, tell me about your wonderful future and all that it holds! In twenty years from now will it be "stuck in the past" to oppose post-birth abortions? Will it be "stuck in the past" to oppose forced sterilization on those that are deemed unfit? Let me tell you about being "stuck in the past", no one is, we are all here in the present, and your comment is nothing more than a weak attempt to sluff off something that is uncomfortable to you, that cuts in to your "lifestyle". Are you actually a Columbia student? Because in my classes no one ever wants to vent their vile opinions out loud, they only seem to get brave once they are online. If you are, in fact, a student here, I am afraid that my colleagues and I have failed in your instruction, your opinion is remedial at best, and moronic at worst.

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Anonymous posted on

Dear Professor,
You spelled slough as "sluff" - I hope that's not what you're "teaching" in your "classes."

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Respect for Life posted on

Yeah, you got me, I'm really only a janitor here (I clean toilets) because no one could ever "go" here and hold traditional values, or teach here and misspell a word. Just remember that after you abort your child and you're all alone at night, completely distraught over the taking of an innocent life (because the truth always has a way of creeping into one's mind) and thinking what a terrible person you are and how your parents would hate you for doing what you have done…well, that's the way you are supposed to feel. The saddest thing though is that it all could have been prevented by adhering to time tested and true modes of behavior, but you were just far too self-centered and selfish to ever think things through to the end consequence, or if there might be someone/something besides you and your desires. YOLO, innocent blood be damned, IT'S ALL ABOUT ME I'M ENTITLED TO LIVE LIKE A BEAST! I'm sure your therapist in twenty years will be grateful for your selfish and foolish indiscretions.

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Anonymous posted on

Does anyone else reaaaaaaaaaaaaally doubt this person teaches here?

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CC '17 posted on

"They only seem to get brave once they are online," says the person posting anonymously online.
In all seriousness, I'm sure we would all love to know who you are if you really do teach here. I am actually pro-life, and I would love to find a professor or two who isn't a nutter liberal. But I'm sure everyone else here who's liberal would love to argue or debate with you in public as well.
So, who are you?

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Respect for Life posted on

I told you, I'm a janitor, I clean toilets.

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Lion posted on

How disgusting. That's all that can really be said.

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Gesiye posted on

Are we actually, really, seriously still having this debate?

Really?

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RLTW posted on

Well yeah, these idiots won't stop killing babies! "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke

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AWAKE&PAYINGATTENTION posted on

Wow, look at her photo, she just looks completely evil, doesn't she? Wooooeeee, that look of hers really gives me the creeps, in a Hitleresque kind of way. She looks like the type that secretly videos all those vile abortions she is responsible for, then spends time alone just watching them , over, and over, and over! Brrrrr, I get the shivers every time I look at it, or think about it. Barnard should stop this, I don't think anything good whatsoever can come from this demon coming here, the wandering souls of all those children that she is responsible for killing and now follow her around, ALL that bad karma and those poor wounded souls, well some could stay at Barnard! They will torment and take vengence on whomever was supporting of this! Mark my words, if the admin lets that wicked monster come spew her evil rhetoric here, then watch, over the next 2-3 years there will be a sharp rise in Barnard suicides, drug OD's, violence, outbreaks of virus's & disease. Maybe murder, who knows, you shouldn't mess around with this sort of thing, I really think that they should cancel this witch and get someone else, you have been warned; Si huc malum in saeculum saeculi. Veritatem enim dicam: Audite sermons meum.

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disturbedmary posted on

Richards is truly a demonic choice, just as is abortion. An exorcist would be appropriate at this commencement. Maybe those who are pro-life should wear LIFE taped on their mouths as she speaks. This in your face invite merits public witness.

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AWAKE&PAYINGATTENTION posted on

So true Mary, and that is an excellent idea about the tape! I hope you, or some other Pro-Life Barnard ladies put it into ACTION! Good luck & God Bless, you ARE supported!!!

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That was funny posted on

...if you were trying to be sarcastic :-)

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Stand Up posted on

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhZHCx0Lw0E&list=PL8EFD92381B996609

PROOF!

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