Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Planned Parenthood as "Lifestyle" Brand

Monday's Wall Street Journal contained an article about Planned Parenthood's efforts to invest it's "surplus" from recent years (being a non-profit, they're not allowed to call the difference between what they spend and what they take in each year a "profit") in expanding their reach into middle and upper class demographics. To this end, they're opening "express centers" in suburban malls which feature birth control, pregnancy tests, counseling, books and branded merchandise.
To encourage the new wave of patients to join the cause, an express center in Parker, Colo., sells political buttons next to the condoms and sets out invitations to activism by the magazine rack.... Officials also aim to rally support with upbeat marketing: TV ads with perky voice-overs about love; a crass-and-sassy Web campaign aimed at teens. Earlier this year, Planned Parenthood began selling a $2 branded condom -- promoted as a "must-have fashion accessory" -- in luxury boutiques and W hotels.
They're also opening regional mega-clinics, as opposed to their more traditional 2,500-5,000 sq. ft. facilities to provide their full range of "services". These mega-centers are targeting at higher income areas, and designed to give the Planned Parenthood brand a brighter, more consumerist appearance.

If all of this chirpy discussion of how to make Planned Parenthood a more attractive brand strikes you as having a certain "Springtime for Hitler" quality, it's because you and I inhabit something like the same culture. Indeed, aside from the obviously appalling elements, one of the weirdest things about reading the article was the implicit assumption that Planned Parenthood was a marketable brand. Between their founding by Margaret Sanger, who ranted about how abortion and contraception (especially for non whites) were needed to protect "the race", and the fact that they are by far the largest provider of abortions -- a service that major portions of the country may be reluctant to totally ban, yet at the same time are far from comfortable with -- I would tend to assume that Planned Parenthood is one of those pariah organizations which we can't seem to get rid of, yet no one seriously considers a positive "brand".

In the immediate culture within which I move, that may be true. But apparently in other cultures that exist within this country, Planned Parenthood is the sort of "brand" from which one would be happy to buy a fashion t-shirt of branded condom, just to show that you're "with it" by having all the right corporate titles on your possessions.

People talk about reducing the "division" in our political and cultural discourse, but this sort of thing serves to underline for me that there really is little chance of these divisions going away any time in the foreseeable future. In a country in which one sub-culture's "lifestyle brand" is another culture's "culture of death", there's simply too fundamental a disagreement to expect it to go away.


Zachary said...


planned parenthood stores.

i wonder how far off suicide machines are?

"there's simply too fundamental a disagreement to expect it to go away. "

but when Obama is elected we will transcend disagreement, alleviate mankind's pain, and join the symphonic chorus of unique and creative action!

Theocoid said...

Apparently Margaret Sanger was NOT a proponent of abortion. Of course, she still held many reprehensible positions. Jonah Goldberg just published an article on her in NRO ( See the fourth paragraph from the bottom. So PP is actually more extreme than its founder.

CMinor said...

Amazing, theocoid--

I wonder how she squared her endorsement (and personal practice) of promiscuity with her emphatic decrying of the practice of abortion, especially in view of her imagined future in which women would not be allowed to have reproduce without government permission. I guess she figured we'd have 100% fool-proof contraception by then.

Still, I wonder if there wasn't a bit of cognitive dissonance going on between her public views and her personal ones, because she knew those views wouldn't play in Peoria.

Of course, during the time when she was studying nursing, she would have been taught, correctly, that a human life begins at conception. She would doubtless have also been exposed to the abhorrence with which any respectable medical professional of the period viewed abortion and abortionists.

Darwin said...

While Sanger did specifically decry abortion early in her career (at a point at which many feminists saw abortion as a male imposition on women -- which it arguably often is) my understanding is that she did a 180 and was a solid proponent of it later on. (She lived into the 60s.)

She did, however, consistently argue in public that more contraception was needed in order to avoid the necessity of abortions. Take that for what one will