I saw a commercial a few months ago that kind of bugged me. It was an ad for Kraft’s “Anything” dressings. In a move to increase sales and generate interest, Kraft re-branded their salad dressings and labeled them “Anything” dressings. The label and packaging is different, but the contents remain the same. Now, I don’t have a problem with Kraft suggesting we use their dressings for more than just salad. I already use Ranch with everything from pizza to waffles fries. What bugged me, rather, was the fact that a marketing campaign was launched to sell the same product, with just a new name and design.
I was reminded of my thoughts towards those successful salad dressing bottles when I read that Planned Parenthood has decided to pull away from identifying itself as “pro-choice.” I wondered why I should care about a label being dropped when I know that what’s inside the package hasn’t changed a bit.
Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said the word “choice” itself might be causing problems. “When ‘choice’ got assigned,” she explained, “women didn’t have as many choices” in any area of their lives. Now that women have more rights and freedoms, she said, maybe “‘choice’ as word sounds frivolous.”
Planned Parent’s VP gave her reasons for abandoning the word “choice.” Although I like to take people at their word, I wonder if this decision had more to do with the fact the Gallup polls are reporting record lows for people who identify themselves as “pro-choice.” Is Planned Parenthood just seeking to distance itself from a term it no longer finds useful?
Planned Parenthood claims that this change is connected to polls and online surveys that show voters have conflicted thoughts towards abortion. In a 2012 online survey of voters, 12% said they were both pro-life and pro-choice, while an additional 12% said they wouldn’t use those terms. When questioned on abortion being moral, 40% of the voters said it depends on the situation. One woman in a PP focus group admitted to being neither pro-choice or pro-life, but rather pro-“whatever the situation is.”
Both anti-abortion activists and abortion supporters can agree that many in the general public have conflicting views on abortion. When it comes to the “pro-choice” term, even liberal abortion rights writers have different opinions on the topic.
RH Reality Check writer Tracey Weitz shared these statements in her article titled “Planned Parenthood Gives Up the “Pro-Choice” Label: What Does It Mean for the Movement?”
This week, Planned Parenthood announced it will let go of the “pro-choice” label, concerned that the pro-life/pro-choice framework for abortion doesn’t resonate with the general public that holds many more conflicting positions on abortion. They instead would like to focus on the real life circumstances of women and the idea that none of us can walk in any woman’s shoes. This decision led to a huge sigh of relief among advocates for reproductive health, rights, and justice across the U.S. While the media and many of the larger more established movement organizations had held onto “pro-choice”, critics of the framework had existed for years and included activists, advocates, and scholars.
Liberal blogger Amanda Marcotte is not applauding Planned Parenthood’s decision. She penned these words for Slate.
I can see why Planned Parenthood might want to shed the term in order to get these conflicted people to realize they are on Planned Parenthood’s side. But I’m afraid that the desire to go label-free is doomed to fail. I’m not going to start writing pieces where I describe pro-choice organizations as pro-whatever-the-situation-is organizations or help-people-understand-the-circumstances organizations. Labels are simply part of language, and shorthand rhetoric is part of the political debate. As long as abortion is a contested issue, there’s no opting out of that. The only real choice you have is to label yourself or let others do it for you, and of those two options, smart folks will pick the former every time. Pro-choice has its drawbacks, but at least it’s accurate.
I agree with Amanda on one thing. If you don’t label yourself, others will do it for you. Truth is, even if you do label yourself, others will still share their own opinions. In my years of doing pro-life work, I’ve been labeled everything from a nutjob to a racist against my own race. I’ve also been called a gift from God and a lifesaver. It all depends on who you ask.
Planned Parenthood has continually changed its image throughout the years. What began as Margaret Sanger’s racially motivated, eugenicist-led “American Birth Control League” has now become a pink-covered, billion-dollar-funded, celebrity-endorsed international baby-killing machine. Planned Parenthood distances itself from the words of Sanger, who once called minorities “human weeds that should be exterminated” and now proclaims sweet words of “Care, no matter what.” Yet all one has to do is peel back the labels to see that the content has never changed. Even a look at the surveys used to gather data for the change of terms displays these words: “Online survey of 1000 recent voters, African-American and Hispanic Oversamples, Dec 2012.”
As pro-life writer Jill Stanek reports:
But note who is PP targeting in particular. Minorities. Read the fine print in both these graphs – “African American and Hispanic oversamples[.]“
Planned Parenthood continues to paint itself as the savior for poor helpless minorities. Its cause is sadly vocally championed by President Obama. This is nothing more than an updated version of the Negro Project. Margaret Sanger would be proud.
Planned Parenthood can throw out “pro-choice” and rally around “reproductive justice” or claim they really “care.” Call it what you may, but the content stays the same. I’m not buying it.
If pro-lifers care about the recent name-drop, it should be for just one reason. The truth about abortion is being revealed, and the nation is becoming increasingly pro-life. Planned Parenthood is scrambling to push out videos and marketing ideas to gain allies. This proves that our work is making a difference. Truth is prevailing over crafted lies.