Cecile Richards

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, will help kick off APHA’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Expo in Denver. Photo courtesy Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that had shuttered women’s health clinics across the Lone Star state. The court’s decision was an enormous victory for women’s health and access to care. In fact, APHA’s own Georges Benjamin said the decision sent the message that “safe, local reproductive health care cannot be denied based on out-of-touch medical practices that serve no benefit to public health.” Right on, Dr. Benjamin!

Of course, when it comes to ensuring that all Americans — both men and women — have access to reproductive and sexual health services, there are few organizations more dedicated than Planned Parenthood. For nearly a century, the organization has been working to ensure women have access to the services and information they need to keep themselves and their families healthy. Today, Planned Parenthood is one of the nation’s leading providers of high-quality and affordable health care and the largest provider of evidence-based sex education. When it comes to safeguarding access to care for all, Planned Parenthood is always on the frontlines.

So it makes perfect sense that the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards, would keynote APHA’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Expo, which has a theme of “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health.” Richards, who also serves as president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, will keynote this year’s Opening General Session on Sunday, Oct. 30, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. And like so many opening speakers before her, Richards is sure to deliver the passion and enthusiasm to bring thousands of public health workers to their feet with applause.

“APHA always does such a great job of choosing keynote speakers who focus on the clear public health issues of the time,” said Lea Dooley, chair of APHA’s Population, Reproductive and Sexual Health Section and director of the Ryan White Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio. “Richards has consistently been a voice for women’s health and has become the face of ensuring access to health care for some of the most vulnerable people in the country.”

During last year’s APHA Annual Meeting in Chicago, Richards received the Section’s 2015 Outstanding Leader in Reproductive and Sexual Health Award. And while she wasn’t able to attend the Section’s award ceremony in person, she sent in this video in which she talked about Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and the extraordinary social and legal barriers she faced in providing women with information about birth control. It’s that kind of determination, Richards said in the video, that gives her the strength to lead under pressure.

“When my colleagues and I need to deal with pressure, we think about Margaret, whose fearlessness and foresight ushered in one of the most revolutionary developments of the last century: sexual and reproductive health care for women so that they can control their bodies, lives, families and futures,” Richards said as she accepted the Section’s award.

And while Sanger is certainly a giant in the history of women’s health, Dooley said Richards is leaving her own giant mark as well.

“She’s become an icon for expanding access to sexual and reproductive health,” Dooley said. “I’m so proud of APHA for asking her to speak.”

To learn more about this year’s Annual Meeting speakers, sessions and events, visit www.apha.org/annualmeeting.