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.