Friday, December 05, 2008

Give the gift of death for Christmas

In these hard times, people are looking for practical gifts for Christmas, and gift certificates are a popular choice. Here in Indianapolis, there is a wider range of choices in gift certificates than average- "choice" being the operative word, as Planed Parenthood now offers gift certificates for all services, including abortion. (See IndyStar Gift certificate covering abortion stirs controversy ).

Yeah, yeah, I know 95% of what they do is unrelated to abortion. But for a large percentage of those for whom "Christmas" means more than Rudolf and candy canes, that other 5% is hardly compatible with the concept of a Christmas present. "Dan Gangler, communication director for the Indiana conference of the United Methodist Church, said he supports the certificates to help needs such as Glaspie's, but because they can be used for abortions, he called them "in poor taste."" Gee, ya think?

Others use stronger words. "The certificates' holiday launch suggests they're intended as an attack on those Christians who oppose abortion, (Right to Life of Indianapolis President Marc) Tuttle said.

"It's offensive that they would be highlighting Christmas to push their services," Tuttle said. "Christmas is a time when Christians are celebrating the birth of a savior to Mary, an unwed mother.""

Kate Shepherd, a Planned Parenthood of Indiana spokeswoman, disagrees. ""This program has nothing to do with abortion," Shepherd said of the gift certificates. "This is about basic reproductive health care."" I'm sure it is- even though they don't offer a certificate that doesn't include abortion. I don't believe the holiday launch of this program was intended as an attack on Christians... but I do think it was as clueless as the auto execs flying private jets to Washington for the bailout talks.

13 comments:

Chalicechick said...

The thing is, I think I know what they were getting as as a VERY large percentage of the women I knew as a college student and 20 something who didn't have insurance that covered birth control used Planned Parenthood, me included.

At the same time, the way they did this was stupid. I think if they had done "Sponser a free annual exam for an anonymous woman who can't afford one," I might have been a customer.

CC

ogre said...

Tin ear, yes.

But the idea that everything that happens is an attack on Christians and Christianity is... well, self-obsession, and a need to be a victim.

Gifts, at their best, give people what THEY need, not what one thinks, feels, and wishes they wanted or needed.

Understanding that I find abortion a challenging subject (but end up firmly pro-choice in the end, with conflicts...), I can well see that being given a certificate that allowed one to get an abortion one needed and could not afford would be a... well, a gift.

Hell, if they'd handed out cash, people would NOT have bitched. The certificate is essentially that--it entitles one to the value of any service.... That some of those have moral issues attached is true.

They've just found a way to use it to attack Planned Parenthood (gee, what a shock). Yet if people were giving away cash to people who were going to just go blow it on booze, gambling, drugs, porn... I don't think the moralist would be all fired up.

Funny. It only permits people free will, choice, and doesn't urge them to run down and get an abortion. Just enabling free will. Bad gift, bad!

Oy.

Joel Monka said...

"They've just found a way to use it to attack Planned Parenthood (gee, what a shock)." I don't think those who are complaining were searching for a way to attack Planned Parenthood. Had the certificates been for any specific mundane service, they wouldn't have said a word- and such medical gift certificates exist. A certificate for a colonoscopy was one of the presents at church one year, for example. It was the "tin ear" factor of a gift certificate suitable for an abortion to be given in celebration of the birth of Christ that was at issue. Forget about Jesus- that's a strange thing to give in celebration of ANY birth. CC's suggestion would have been a far better way to go.

Chalicechick said...

(((I don't think those who are complaining were searching for a way to attack Planned Parenthood)))

I think it's a pretty safe assumption that at least the guy from "Right to Life of Indianapolis" was.

Maybe not the other guy, though.

CC

Chalicechick said...

Ps. Rereading my initial response, I think it should probably be clarified that I meant that my friends and I used Planned Parenthood's inexpensive birth control and doctor visits, not necessarily their abortion services, though I do know a couple of women who did.

Steve Caldwell said...

Joel wrote:
-snip-
"I don't believe the holiday launch of this program was intended as an attack on Christians... but I do think it was as clueless as the auto execs flying private jets to Washington for the bailout talks."

Joel,

"Cluelessness" often happens when rational people underestimate irrationality in others.

Given that irrationality exists, the logical thing to do here is to brainstorm the possible ways that people can react irrationally to the gift card campaign and be ready for them.

According to the Planned Parenthood of Indiana web site, they offer the following resources and information:

Information and referrals for adoption, prenatal care, and counseling are available, as well as abortion information and referral.

Given that they are providing information on all legally available choices that can be made with unplanned pregnancies, it sounds like they are offering what ogre said in his comment -- choice and enabling of free will.

Joel Monka said...

""Cluelessness" often happens when rational people underestimate irrationality in others." Responding to this will require an entire post, not a quick comment, but I'll just say for now that it's an object lesson in why the humanist and theist wings of the UU world will never reconcile. And that it's the rhetoric of a hatemonger.

Steve Caldwell said...

Joel wrote:
-snip-
" ... but I'll just say for now that it's an object lesson in why the humanist and theist wings of the UU world will never reconcile. And that it's the rhetoric of a hatemonger."

Joel,

If you feel that the humanist and theist wings of the UU world cannot reconcile, what do you propose as a solution?

Personally, I feel that "hatemonger" (one who incites others to hatred or prejudice) is tad extreme for labeling a person like me who holds a different opinion.

Joel Monka said...

Steve, I am not labeling you a hatemonger; I'm saying that that phraseology is the rhetoric of hatemongers, and I will elaborate in a future post.

As to a solution, there are two:
1. The one that's never been tried before- that people genuinely understand that someone can hold a different view and be every bit as rational as one's self.
2. The solutio in progress- through self selection and attrition, congregations becoming wholly believers or non believers

ogre said...

Maybe the world I see is very different... but I have contact with several UU congregations, so I don't think that I'm just seeing one and mistaking it for the forest.

I've seen more people who are BOTH Humanist and theistic (in some form) identifying that. How the hell are two nominally incompatible wings of the movement going to go in opposite directions when the congregations themselves have a significant number of people who identify themselves as being in the middle, identifying with both wings, and have members of one wing or the other with close, meaningful relationships with people of the other wing who would be devastated if they divided?

My congregation's worship committee worked on this for at least a year--because it was the locus of the conflict between the two groups (not in most other places though...). It's been worked on and worked out. And the number of people who left or consider leaving over it are countable on one hand, with enough fingers left over to hold a coffee cup.

One of the things that was discerned was that the conflict is a Very Convenient set of pigeonholes for other issues. Like... one group of movers and shakers who are getting old and attend less often and feel like Those Other Folks have taken over and displaced them and changed everything and it's not like it was and how it ought to still be.

When the full-blown Humanist Atheist who has no mental map for what people mean when they make the meaningless noise spelled "faith" (etc) doesn't agree that the services have gone all squishy and meaninglessly "spiritual" (whatever that means), it's a damned good indicator that the issue that is named is not the true issue.

Or... there's the congregation that was growing just fine (way above the nominal 1% average) with its minister who was publicly an Atheist. And when she let them in on the fact that her views had shifted, and while she wasn't anything like the Theist she'd been taught to be growing up, she'd stopped claiming Atheism and was using the word Mystic... and the church kept right on growing, and there was no rush out the door of displaced, abandoned, unhomed Humanists.

But this is a major digression, Joel.

I still haven't seen any sort of rational explanation why a certificate that could be used for any service at PP is an abomination and an affront to Christianity... and yet a wad of cash that someone might use for an abortion (or something else shocking to moralizers) would not be.

The Season is not about Christianity. Or Jesus. It's the winter holidays, which cover many, many different faiths and traditions and... even those Atheists and other folk who only celebrate the celebration because it's damned pleasant to celebrate with people at a time when it's chilly and dark.

The very idea that the certificates are "an attack on those Christians who oppose abortion" is indicative of folks who think the entire world revolves around them. More toe the point, it's specious. Given their views on abortion, the idea that something that permits an abortion would be worse at one time of year rather than another is ludicrous. Absurd. Risible.

Wait, wait, we'll not do any abortions for the month before Xmas--nor the month before Easter. And... they'll shut up about it the rest of the year because people are bending over backwards to accommodate their sensitivities and beliefs?

Nah. I didn't think so.

Look, PP's providing abortion services offends them. All the time. No matter what. This is just media whoring on their part. Oh, look at us, I'm faint, just faint with shock--and horror. Unlike the rest of the year.

Once again. The real point of a gift of charitable character is to provide someone something they need--or to give them the means to let them get themselves what they need. If someone decides that she really needs an abortion--that's her decision. It's her need.

A little intellectual honesty, please. It's one thing to say one approves or disapproves of abortion and to make the arguments.... It's another to start claiming that the time of year provides one an extra reason to be upset--and that the people who disagree with you should be being extra-special-particular sensitive to how you might be feeling. Particularly when you display no sensitivity to their views either.
["You" here is not intended to refer to you, Joel.]

I don't even think it was clueless. I'm trying to decide why PP should care what Right to Life's going to have to say about this. It's not at all like the bailout--it's not as if PP is asking the UMC or Right to Life to help fund the certificates.

Joel Monka said...

ogre- a great deal of what you say will be addressed in the post that will also deal with my discussion with Steve, said post coming a day or so, depending upon my RL distractions. (Dontcha hate it when RL interfers with net time?)

ogre said...

Yup. I just hate that. My life is full of it.

Mostly said...

ogre writes "I'm trying to decide why PP should care what Right to Life's going to have to say about this. It's not at all like the bailout--it's not as if PP is asking the UMC or Right to Life to help fund the certificates."

Right to Life groups and PP have a funny relationship... what's funny about it is that each group is absolutely essential to fund-raising efforts of the other... so the more either group can talk to their own supporters about something "shocking" or "outrageous" the other said or did, the more likely they are to make their supporters angry enough to send some more money! There's a curious kind of move and counter-move element to it... but it always ends in stalemate.