In this episode, the hosts talk with Kelley Robinson of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She breaks down the two arms of Planned Parenthood – the national network of health care providers and the Action Fund, which is focused on influencing politics and policy. Find out how to get involved with Take Control, their $50 million midterm election initiative.
The hosts also talk with Maxim Thorne, CEO of Civic Influencers. They focus on building movements with the youth vote on “tipping point” campuses across the country. They will build movements for 2022, 2024, and beyond.
All episodes begin and end with the 2017 single “Rise” by rock group Betty (www.hellobetty.com)
All episodes are produced by Amy Yoder (www.alyoder.com)
Additional support provided by Cary and Logan at Broussard Global.
The Hosts Start by Sharing What They’re Pissed About
Carol is pissed about the racist remarks made by Nury Martinez on Los Angeles City Council, and while that councilmember has resigned, that’s not enough. Carol calls for the other city council members who were laughing at her comments. We’ve passed the time where enablers and those who are complicit in this type of behavior can skip off with no consequence.
Gloria expressed admiration for the January 6th committee, but she is pissed that Attorney General Merrick Garland hasn’t done more. What will happen next for those involved in the insurrection, including Donald Trump, depends a lot of Attorney General Merrick Garland and his colleagues at the DOJ.
Sherrye is pissed that Donald Trump bragged about the size of the crowd on January 6th, saying it was the biggest crowd he’d ever seen. He said this in Nevada while stomping for Adam Laxalt, who is a proponent of the Big Lie.
Betty starts off with a shout out to Nancy Pelosi’s grace under fire, which was captured in just-released footage from January 6th. But Betty is still pissed – today, she’s pissed that at least 66 clinics in 15 states have been forced to stop offering abortion care since the fall of Roe v. Wade in June, according to the Guttmacher Institute. This means 22 million women of reproductive age now live in a state where abortion is either unavailable or severely restricted.
Carol Introduces Our Guest, Kelley Robinson
A quick note on the difference between Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
- Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a national network of health care providers across the country that provides healthcare to people across the country.
- The Action Fund is to fight for laws and policies to ensure the health centers can provide the full range of care for patients seeking care.
At the time of recording, 17 states have banned abortion access currently, with more on the way. Those are the same states that don’t support birthing parents, children, and families. The states that ban abortion have high rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality, and child poverty. So this isn’t about people – it’s about power.
The Impact of the Dobbs Decision
Kelley points out that the courts turning abortion access back to the states didn’t change any of the need for abortion or reproductive health care. It just changed how hard it is to get it – and that impacted those who are already marginalized more heavily.
Health care providers are doing heroic things to make sure that folks can get access to health care that they need and get educated around how to get it.
Our bodies have been politicized in this moment, and Planned Parenthood is making sure that people have access to care in a way that supports bodily autonomy in the health care setting. At the same time, Planned Parenthood is fighting for laws and policies that will enable health care providers to continue providing those services.
Galvanizing Around the Dobbs Decision
It’s clear that people are fired up about this issue. People are showing up in record numbers to register to vote and are actually turning out to the polls. There are more champions of reproductive rights running across the country at the same time that the opposition is removing their anti-abortion language from their websites. Blake Masters of Arizona is a great example of a candidate who overhauled his website after his primary in order to try and appeal to a wider voter base in the general election.
The opportunity is this moment is to understand that Roe v. Wade being the law of the land was never enough. It was a right in name only, especially for those in marginalized communities.
The job now is:
- Do greater advocacy within the medical setting to make sure the voices of marginalized populations are heard
- Ensuring both access and education around these services in order to remove the stigma around abortion and reproductive care
- Continue the fight by mobilizing the majority of those Americans who do believe in the right to reproductive self-determination
Take Control with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Kelley explains that PPAF has made their largest ever electoral program called Take Control. It’s a $50 million investment to ensure that pro-choice candidates get into office up and down the ballot. This is an election cycle where every single race matters, and every single candidate needs to be pro-choice. They all matter.
Take Control has their eye on nine critical states with federal races, as well as looking at state races and especially attorneys general. Kelley sees a path to win on this issue in every state, since 80% of people in the country are pro-choice. That’s the vast majority, and it’s just about capitalizing on that voter turnout.
What can you do?
There are virtual phone banks where you can call or text, so you can help no matter where you live. They also have local resources if you’d like to help in person.
You can donate your time, your treasure, and your talent. If we all come together to do a little, it will add up to a whole lot. We can win this and push it across the finish line.
Our Second Guest, Maxim Thorne of Civic Influencers
Maxim’s work focuses on the youth vote, particularly on college campuses. Voters aged 18 to 29 are the largest voting block in the country, taking over Boomers this year. Maxim thinks this voting block will be the tipping point in many of the midterm election races.
The organization, Civic Influencers, uses data to show those voters, many of whom feel their votes don’t matter, just how close a lot of these races are. They’ve identified “tipping point” campuses across the country where they’re focusing their resources.
It’s also critical for organizations and candidates to understand that this voting block is not a monolithic voting block, with a misalignment along geographic and demographic lines. Maxim is optimistic because Civic Influencers is seeing an uptick in young men and women caring about their bodily autonomy. In those key states, Maxim believes they can get out the vote and turn many, many seats across the country pro-choice.
Maxim also talks about the events that shaped the lives of this voting block, how that influenced the issues that are important to them, and why the wins that they’ve had will continue to inform them.
Building Movements with Civic Influencers
Maxim talks about how his organization differs from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in that they’re not focused on specific candidates. Instead, they focus on long-term movements that will continue to impact this voting block as they get older and the newer voters who are constantly coming of age. So this means they’re committed to winning in 2022 and investing in a long-term movement to 2024’s presidential election and beyond.
Kelley Robinson is the executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the vice president of advocacy and organizing at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Kelley has over 12 years of experience as a leader in the progressive field, with an expertise in sexual and reproductive health and a deep commitment to leading with equity.
Kelley began her Planned Parenthood career in 2009 as a regional organizer in Iowa and Nebraska. Since then, Kelley has served as a key leader in driving PPFA and PPAF’s vision for supporter engagement by serving as the lead strategist for its national mobilizations, creating Path to Power, the organizations’ grassroots training program, developing a variety of constituency programs, and leading critical issue fights. Outside of Planned Parenthood, Robinson serves on the board of SisterSong, the largest national women of color reproductive justice collective, and on the board of the Alliance for Youth Action.
Maxim Thorne earned a B.A. (cum laude honors) in Economics and Political Science from Yale College and a J.D. from the Yale Law School. Maxim has served as the Managing Director of The Andrew Goodman Foundation, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications and Development Officer of NAACP, the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Human Rights Campaign and HRC Foundation and the Executive Director of NJ Head Start Association. As a dedicated leader and advocate, Maxim has served on the Board of Directors of many organizations as well, including the founding Board of Yale Black Alumni Association, Chaired the 40th Anniversary of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale, Honorary Co-Chair of the 50th Anniversary of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale, the Board of Governors of Yale University, Executive Committee of the Yale Law School, GLAAD, the North Star Fund, Amistad Research Center, Barnert Hospital Foundation and Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey. He also serves on the Yale Alumni Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).