Last night, Maggie Groff, the Southeatern Pennsylvania project director for Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, spoke to Penn students about Planned Parenthood’s role in recent and upcoming elections.
Penn Democrats, Lambda Alliance, Penn Association for Gender Equity and Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault sponsored the lecture as a part of the “Week of Action” campaign set forth by the Obama administration. The Week of Action, which began on Nov. 8 and will continue through Nov. 15, strives to increase support for the “It’s On Us” campaign, a national program that works to educate college students about sexual assault prevention.
Groff, who is also the vice president of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, was the second speaker in a series of events dedicated to Penn’s Week of Action campaign. Other events will include the chalking of Locust Walk with the statistics of the Campus Climate Survey and a bystander training program that aims to educate students about sexual assault prevention.
This lecture came at a time when Planned Parenthood was in the national spotlight. Over the summer, an anti-abortion activist group released videos portraying alleged illegal activities involving the use of fetal tissue for research. Since then, Republicans in Congress have argued in favor of defunding the agency.
According to Penn Democrats Vice President Max Levy, Groff’s talk was especially pertinent given the focus on women’s health in the events leading up to the 2016 election.
“Planned Parenthood is still incredibly relevant when looking at women’s issues,” he said.
Groff has spent her entire career working for Planned Parenthood. According to Groff, Planned Parenthood is the largest women’s healthcare system in the country. “We have a niche that we can move politically and electorally,” she said.
In terms of the political climate of Pennsylvania, Groff noted that the Nov. 2 election was “a really critical election” for Planned Parenthood.
In what is believed to be the first time in Pennsylvania’s history, there were three simultaneously open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, leaving available an unusually significant window of political influence. As a result, Planned Parenthood took measures to focus on voter turnout for the election. According to Groff, the experience was mostly positive. “Voters were very receptive of Planned Parenthood” at the door this summer and fall, she said.
As far as Planned Parenthood’s appearance in the 2016 elections is concerned, Groff said she believes that women’s reproductive rights will continue to be at the forefront of the political debate. “It has become such a partisan issue,” she added.
In addition to speaking about the role of women’s reproductive health in politics, Groff touched on the services Planned Parenthood has to offer. According to Groff, Planned Parenthood works on three main fronts: health, education and advocacy.
For talk attendee and College junior Jessie Lu, Groff’s insider perspective was particularly appealing.
“It’s always cool to hear from someone who is actually participating in making the decisions and trying to figure out how to present this institution to an interested individual,” she said.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Maggie Groff's name as Maggie Gross. The DP regrets the error.
Clarification: A previous version of this article did not specify that Groff's comments about political action were made on behalf of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates rather than Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The article has been updated to reflect this.
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