In the weeks following her father’s inauguration, Ivanka Trump quietly reached out to the president of Planned Parenthood seeking common ground on the contentious issue of abortion.
The first daughter requested a sit-down with Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood and a vocal surrogate for Hillary Clinton on the 2016 campaign trail, to talk about an organization that is being targeted by Republicans seeking to defund it because it provides abortions, among other women’s health services like cancer screenings.
“The purpose of the meeting, from Cecile’s point of view, was to make sure that Ivanka fully understood what Planned Parenthood does, how it is funded, and why it would be a terrible idea for Planned Parenthood to be removed from being able to see Medicaid patients,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The main thing that Cecile Richards was doing was explaining that the money doesn’t actually go to abortions — we get reimbursed the same way a hospital does. We were clearing up misinformation about how this works.”
Richards also shares a unique perspective with Ivanka Trump: She, too, is a political daughter (her mother was former Texas Gov. Ann Richards) with big personal ambitions focused on fighting for women’s empowerment. Laguens called it “an explainer meeting” and said that Ivanka Trump had expressed an interest in wanting “to know more about the facts of Planned Parenthood.”
Ivanka Trump has been on a listening tour since moving to Washington, as she stakes a claim on women’s issues. In addition to her meeting with Richards, she has quietly met with other leaders of the progressive women’s movement, including Marcia Greenberger, co-president the National Women’s Law Center, and Judy Lichtman, senior adviser to the National Partnership for Women and Family, sources familiar with the meetings told POLITICO.
But the strategic outreach hasn’t seemed to earn Ivanka Trump much public goodwill. Since Ivanka Trump’s sit-down with Richards, what started as a cordial relationship has soured — and any effort on the part of the politically savvy first daughter to back-channel to the nonprofit has transformed into a bitter battle since Ivanka Trump assumed an official administration post.