Ex-Planned Parenthood executive: The threat to Roe v. Wade is 'real'

“Through Her Eyes” is a weekly show hosted by human rights activist Zainab Salbi that explores contemporary news issues from a female perspective. You can watch the full episode of “Through Her Eyes” every Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Roku, or at the bottom of this article.

As the former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards steered the organization through over a decade of controversies and threats to dismantle Roe v. Wade. But Richards says Roe v. Wade hasn’t really been in jeopardy — until now.

“I think that in some ways when I was at Planned Parenthood, the threat to Roe seemed a little bit academic, perhaps,” Richards said during an interview with the Yahoo News show “Through Her Eyes.”

“Now, it’s real.”

Richards sees “enormous alarm” sweeping the U.S., as more states continue to draft restrictive anti-abortion legislation. In the past few weeks, states like Georgia, Ohio and Missouri have passed bans on abortion after a doctor can detect “a fetal heartbeat”; this can be as early as six weeks — before many women know they’re pregnant. Meanwhile, Alabama passed a near-total abortion ban.

These new laws are increasing the likelihood that the legality of abortion nationwide will yet again be brought before the conservative-leaning Supreme Court, which could decide to review the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

“Many states now are essentially assuming with the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court that it will be a state-by-state decision whether abortion remains safe and legal in the U.S.,” Richards said.

Richards also pointed to another area of women’s health where she said politicians should be concentrating more of their attention: the United States’ abysmal maternal mortality rates.

“Georgia just happens to be the state with the second-highest rate of maternal mortality in the United States of America,” she exclaimed. “Maternal mortality is on the rise. It’s the highest of any developed nation. That is a health care crisis. So I would like to see Gov. Kemp focus on what is a real health care crisis in this country.”

Listen to the full episode on the “Through Her Eyes” podcast, and listen to past interviews with Queen Latifah, Aly Raisman, and more from season 1.