Author Topic: Planned Parenthood Marketing (Oct. 2004)  (Read 2359 times)

Richard Johnson

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Planned Parenthood Marketing (Oct. 2004)
« on: October 15, 2004, 12:47:11 PM »
Planned Parenthood Marketing (Oct. 2004)

Tasteless. That’s about the kindest adjective we can conjure up regarding Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s new “I had an abortion” T-shirt. A lot of other people are using stronger language than that. Pro-life groups, of course, but also women who have had abortions and some local affiliates of the national organization are appalled at the cavalier and casual attitude toward abortion that would inspire such a slogan on a T-shirt.

But we have to admit it, we weren’t that surprised. For several years one of PPFA’s big sellers has been a holiday card with the message, “Choice on Earth.” Last year’s version featured a lovely array of snowflakes, with that message. “Spread the holiday spirit with these fun and festive cards,” their on-line advertisement cooed. Funny, we thought the “holiday spirit” had something to do with the birth of a child — a child who, if his mother had been counseled by Planned Parenthood, likely would not have made it to Bethlehem.

When conservative Fox television journalist Bill O’Reilly discovered the card a couple of years ago, he found it astonishing, and said so, suggesting that Jesus would be insulted by the card. He received a letter from the Rev. Mark Bigelow, a United Church of Christ pastor and a member of Planned Parenthood’s clergy advisory board. “One thing I know from the Bible,” the pastor asserted, “is that Jesus was not against women having a choice in continuing a pregnancy. . . Jesus was for peace on earth, justice on earth, compassion on earth, mercy on earth, and choice on earth.”

Later, in an appearance on O’Reilly’s show, Bigelow elaborated. Jesus, he argued, “spoke for the integrity of the individual, for free will, for the opportunity [for people] to express their faith and live their lives according to their values. To be prochoice is to allow people to be able to live their lives, make the most personal decisions about their lives . . . according to their own values.” But, O’Reilly pressed, do you really think Jesus would be happy over the millions of abortions in the almost thirty years since Roe v. Wade? Oh yes, Bigelow asserted, “I think he’s going to be happy that a lot of women did what they needed to do to make sure that they had happy and healthy families.”

So there you have it. Forget about “take up your cross” or “suffer the little children to come unto me.” This Jesus stands for the integrity of the individual and freedom for each person to live according to her or his own values, and God bless us, everyone. And this from a pastor of the United Church of Christ. Why, if we weren’t reasonably confident that we could find plenty of ELCA pastors who would say the same thing, we might be tempted to wonder what it means that we are in full communion with Pr. Bigelow’s denomination.

And, who knows? Maybe the T-shirt will have some appeal among ELCA pastors. After all, the Board of Pensions health care plan will pay for an abortion, no questions asked. Why not advertise that you’ve had one? PPFA’s president, Gloria Feldt, has defended the T-shirts by noting that women who have abortions do so “with thought and heart and moral deliberation.” Heck, why not put it on a T-shirt?

What troubles us is that, given the moral gravity of abortion (and we suppose Ms. Feldt would agree with that assessment, since she acknowledges it to be a decision that requires “moral deliberation”), PPFA seems determined to trivialize it by its incredibly insensitive product marketing. You can get the “Choice on Earth” slogan on a T-shirt now, too, as well as a number of other goodies which can be found on their website at <>. There are lots of things not to like about PPFA, in our opinion, but pro-abortion holiday cards and T-shirts are really over the top.

—— by Richard O. Johnson, associate editor

Copyright 2004 ALPB

« Last Edit: October 15, 2004, 12:53:01 PM by roj »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS


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Re: Planned Parenthood Marketing (Oct. 2004)
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2005, 03:38:13 AM »
In prophetic support for the weakest among us, what do all you folks out there think we, the pastors of the ELCA, should be doing to protect the pre-born?


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Re: Planned Parenthood Marketing (Oct. 2004)
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2005, 09:51:18 AM »
The short answer is through constant, consistent education.  Of course, this hinges on whether or not you believe, teach, and confess that human life begins at conception, and that abortion is a form of homicide (legally sanctioned, of course.)

Looking at things from the standpoint of Biology, it is a simple, biological fact that at the instant of conception, a process is started which, if not interrupted by disease or trauma (unintentional or intentional) will result in the death of a mature human being some 70 to 90 years or so later.  Abortion interrupts this process intentionally by trauma (either mechanically or chemically) thus fits the biological and forensic definition of homicide.

This is my own position and that of the ECCL with two exceptions:  (1) if two physicians state in writing, that it is a medical certainty (not a reasonable medical certainty but a medical certainty) that the mother will die unless the abortion is performed and (2) in the case of rape / incest when two psychiatrists or Ph. D./Psy. D. psychologists state again in writing, that it is a medical certainty (not a reasonable medical certainty, but a medical certainty) that continuing the pregnancy will continue the psychological effects of the rape or incest to the degree that the mother will suffer permanent psychological / mental damage if the pregnancy is continued.

Getting two physicians (or, in the second instance, 2 psychiatrists and/or psychologists) to not only agree that a medical certainty exists and then PUT IT IN WRITING - with all the medicolegal consequences that implies is simply not going to happen unless that medical certainty actually exists.  Getting 2 docs or 2 psych guys to agree verbally is one thing, but requiring them to put it in writing, which exposes them to possible legal action if they exagerate things either way, puts the matter in a "whole 'nother ballpark."  As a retired dentist (forensic odontologist- a specialist in the interface and relationships between Dentistry and the Law -  actually) I can assure you of this.

If this is not done, and the pastor knows for a fact that a parishioner has had an abortion and not confessed and received absolution for the sin of murder, they will not be given communion (they will be under the Minor Ban until they have confessed and been absolved of murder.)

Yes, I know this is a tough standard.  I know that this stance is not a "crowd-pleaser."  But Christian doctrine is not a popularity contest.  If you (and I am presuming you will be backed up by your denomination which is not the case for the ELCA - which is a "whole 'nother ballgame" . . . ) believe, teach, and confess that human life begins at conception and that abortion is homicide, is condemned by the Church as a form of homicide, and that there are catastrophic eternal consequences if one has an abortion - or performs one, or assists in the performance of one, this must be taught firmly and relentlessly.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2005, 10:32:24 AM by Gladfelteri »


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Re: Planned Parenthood Marketing (Oct. 2004)
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2005, 03:33:52 PM »
The brief volume, "Thinking Theologically About Abortion," edited by Paul Stallsworth (Bristol House, 2000) is a sturdy introduction for clergy and laity.  The monthly National Right to Life News ( is a comprehensive resource on current issues.

A pastor might contact and learn about the work of a local Crisis Pregnancy Center and offer support.  A pastor might also join in an annual Walk for Life.

Why not begin a congregational ministry to the unborn and their parents by regularly including the unborn and those who struggle with difficult decisions regarding pregnancy -- in the Prayer of the Church?  

Between one-fifth and one-fourth of all pregnancies in the United States end in abortion.  A pastor might therefore assume that he or she is speaking week after week to people who are contemplating the procedure.

Given this situation, it would seem that a primary goal would be to open the conversation.  In the 70's and 80's many if not most abortions were accompanied by shame and guilt.  For the last 15 years, this has much less frequently been the case.  Abortion is now sought and demanded much as one would exercise any other "right," with apparently an attendant right not to experience second thoughts about the outcome.  On the one hand, raising the issue for discussion is therefore hazardous; the notion of an inborn right to eliminate an unborn child is now deeply etched in culture.  But on the other hand, a simple discussion can prove surprisingly fruitful because the choice for abortion is now often so reflexive that people simply have not considered options that may, on reflection, seem reasonable and persuasive.

When I have preached about abortion, I have received some angry responses.  But others have said: "Finally someone is talking about this."  It has seemed obvious to me that our silence about abortion signals our unwillness to care about and engage the hardest and deepest realities of the lives of those we serve.  I for one do not see how we can speak credibly on a great many other matters if everyone knows by our silence that we will not search out this matter before God with them.

To create a climate in which it is safe to talk about abortion and to seek out the pastor's and the congregation's support in struggling with the decision and possibly with assistance in continuing a difficult pregnancy -- this would be a goal.

Jill Stanek, a Lutheran, is a hero in the pro-life movement and a powerful speaker.  She was catapulted into this ministry because, as a nurse, she finally could not stand by while babies who had survived their abortions were routinely left to die in a utility room at, of all places, Christ Hospital.  She insisted at the very least on holding them as they died.  Holding these dying children in her arms, and the resistance she experienced from the hospital, moved her to speak.  Find a speaker.  Increasingly, there are parents and children who will speak together about: How I almost aborted this child, and how I almost was aborted.

Once I simply said eight words.  Now there is a nine-year-old alive in the world.  One breath - a human life.  Didn't God invite us to be partners in creation?  

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Planned Parenthood Marketing (Oct. 2004)
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2005, 09:52:44 PM »
Let us not forget Lutherans for Life, <> on the web.  

I must confess to some bewilderment (and disappointment) that an organization originally formed with significant LCA and ALC participation is now has an almost entirely LCMS face.  But I serve as our local Chapter's Pastoral Advisor and we are able to get the open support of a couple of other ELCA congregations in several of our efforts.

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Re: Planned Parenthood Marketing (Oct. 2004)
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2007, 07:26:09 AM »
The book is great and the website helpful.  Thanks for helping me grow in speaking about abortion!

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Planned Parenthood Marketing (Oct. 2004)
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2007, 12:48:37 PM »
After all, the Board of Pensions health care plan will pay for an abortion, no questions asked.

Not quite. As I quoted in another meeting the 2007 summary of health care benefits states that the plan does not cover "induced abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy (except when the life of the mother is threatened or the fetus has lethal abnormalities indicating death is imminent)."

So, some questions must be asked.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]