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July 28, 2015
Comments on 2nd Vote’s List of Alleged Corporate Supporters of Planned Parenthood
by Thomas C. Strobhar
Life Decisions International has administered its Corporate Funding Project for nearly 25 years. A key part of the Project has been the biannual release of The Boycott List, which includes detailed information about confirmed corporate supporters of Planned Parenthood. The Boycott List also identifies charitable organizations associated with Planned Parenthood and/or its agenda.
The following is an official statement by LDI Chairman Thomas C. Strobhar regarding the list of alleged corporate supporters of Planned Parenthood made public by the relatively new “2nd Vote” group:
In her book Life on the Line, former Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Alyse Faye Wattleton spoke of the importance of corporate funding of its agenda:
Corporate support was only about 5 percent of our budget, but it meant a great deal to us. The credibility that such endorsements bestowed was at least as valuable as the actual dollars given. It was important that we receive support from every sector of our society — from the kid who sent us a portion of an allowance, to major conglomerates.
Life Decisions International would like to thank 2nd Vote for their interest in fighting corporate support of Planned Parenthood. We are concerned, however, that the enthusiasm is inadvertently creating problems. Some of these problems will be temporary; others long-lasting. Some of these problems will be minor; others serious.
When LDI first began its work we, too, made some of the same mistakes. But 25 years of experience, with a fair amount of “trial and error,” has led to a fine-tuned strategy that has produced remarkable victories. In fact, so far, nearly 325 corporations have agreed to stop supporting the deadly behemoth, which has amounted to some $45 million in lost revenue.
According to Wattleton, the size of gifts given to Planned Parenthood is not the most important part of receiving corporate support. Every dollar sent to Planned Parenthood by a corporation gives “credibility” to the abortion-committing empire. Furthermore, such grants are being interpreted as “endorsements” of Planned Parenthood’s work.
Our specific concerns over the well-meaning actions of 2nd Vote include the following:
The list distributed by 2nd Vote initially consisted of 38 corporations. However, we recently received a list attributed to 2nd Vote that bears the names of 41 corporations. It is not clear if 2nd Vote amended its initial release or if an individual heard a rumor that a corporation not included on the original release was supporting Planned Parenthood so they just added it.
No details are provided regarding the nature of the donations made to Planned Parenthood. 2nd Vote merely did a cut, past and release of the affiliate’s website. No questions asked. No answers provided. Corporations were not contacted before the release of the material. LDI was not consulted to learn what information we had and what negotiations with corporate executives might be underway.
2nd Vote has no discernible standards. The attitude is that reading it on a Planned Parenthood website makes it true. LDI has very specific standards that, over time, have earned the respect of pro-life activists and corporate executives alike.
LDI’s process is detailed in our “CFP Standards and Policies” document:
Once discovering that a corporation is supporting Planned Parenthood, we contact the CEO to determine the nature of the gift. Was it given as part of a matching gift program? Was it a grant from a committee and was unknown to corporate executives? Does the CEO really understand what Planned Parenthood is all about?
As part of LDI’s initial contact the CEO receives a document titled, “Do You Really Want Your Corporation’s Good Name To Be Associated With Planned Parenthood?” It details the group’s activities and agenda. On several occasions the CEO was shocked to learn of Planned Parenthood’s horrific work. As one corporate executive told us, “I thought it was a place to go when people needed help to get pregnant. The name is ‘Planned Parenthood’ isn’t it?” In such cases the CEO agrees to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for funding in the future. In return, LDI does not make the matter public. The goal has been achieved.
From the start we have believed that success is far more important than publicity. This method of operation has allowed many corporate leaders to view us as reasonable and willing to listen. We are both, but we never compromise. If the CEO agrees to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for funding, the case is closed and kept confidential. (The alternative would result in a pro-abortion backlash. CEOs want to avoid the negative publicity and the public relations nightmare that follows. We provide a “way out” for corporate executives—and they have expressed their appreciation.) If the CEO will not make Planned Parenthood ineligible for future grants, we continue talking with corporate officials, often in person, and provide still more information about Planned Parenthood and the damage any association with the group is bound to create.
In some cases we determine that all a CEO needs is a little taste of what will happen if our terms are not met. In this case, before making the corporation a boycott target, we contact anywhere from 100 to 1000 of our most dedicated supporters and ask them to let the CEO know just how much they would appreciate it if the right decision were made—and made soon. This strategy has been enormously successful. The goal has been achieved and, once again, the name of the corporation is not released.
If we determine that dialogue has run its course and our other strategies have proven unsuccessful, a letter is sent to the CEO, via Certified Mail, that reiterates our position and request. A deadline is set. If the requested action is not taken by the deadline, the corporation is added to The Boycott List.
The CEO cannot claim ignorance. The CEO cannot claim to have been blindsided. We have been upfront from the start. The letter-writing campaign begins in earnest. And pro-life people make it clear they will not do business with the offending corporation until it is no longer on The Boycott List.
Working in association with Pro Vita Ad visors, LDI files shareholder resolutions that force corporate executives to publicly deal with the controversy created by their own decisions. Working in association with organizations like The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, pro-life pickets are set up at the boycotted company’s retail sites. In other words, we work to increase the pressure with each passing day.
Randy Sharp of the renowned American Family Association is one of the few people on earth who could accurately be called an expert on boycott strategy. He fully agrees with LDI’s approach. “Everyone’s afraid to be bitten by a snake but the fear can be much worse than the bite. Our policy is that before you call a boycott you do everything in your power to avoid it. They’re costly and time-consuming. You take the easy road first and work with the companies in private.” And, of course, if that does not work, you show them the snake.
One area of potential disagreement over strategy regards corporate support of Planned Parenthood through matching gift programs, which are employee-driven and grants that are corporate-driven. LDI believes Planned Parenthood should receive no corporate funds of any kind, including through such programs. The problem is that virtually every corporation has a matching gift program, which is designed to encourage employee charitable giving. Most corporations will match employee gifts to any organization recognized as such by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization. LDI explicitly urges corporate officials to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for support under all programs. However, while LDI tracks donations to Planned Parenthood made through matching gifts our primary focus and decision-making criteria has been restricted to direct donations, including in-kind gifts.
If matching gift donations to Planned Parenthood were sufficient to be added to The Boycott List, literally thousands of corporations would be targets. Just imagine how many pages the list of boycott targets would be if such a common and popular program were included. It would be unruly, impossible to manage, and the sheer number would be overwhelmingly discouraging to pro-life activists. It would render The Boycott List useless and bring about a quick failure of the Corporate Funding Project. (There are far more than 41 corporations that are directly supporting Planned Parenthood.)
LDI requires corporations matching an employee gift to Planned Parenthood to specifically state it comes from such a program. Furthermore, the corporation must insist that the recipient make this detail known if the donation is made public in any way. Still, we strongly urge all corporate leaders to stay far away from Planned Parenthood. This includes a prohibition on donations to Planned Parenthood from any and all parts of the corporate structure.
With specific regard to the information released by 2nd Vote, several of the listed corporations have been dropped from The Boycott List, most notably AT&T (click here to read the amazing story of how AT&T stood up to Planned Parenthood.) It should be pointed out that AT&T was dropped as a boycott target more than two decades ago.
Let’s say you are the CEO of a corporation and had agreed to stop direct funding of Planned Parenthood (not yet convinced on matching gifts). You are thanked for your courageous decision and the matter is considered closed. (LDI continues to track corporate giving of the corporations that have been “cleared” to make sure they are complying with the agreement. “Trust but verify.”) Yet sometime in the future you receive hundreds of accusatory letters. How would you respond—both emotionally and corporately?
One question about the 2nd Vote list concerns the date the information found on the local Planned Parenthood website was posted? Last week? Last month? Last year? Last decade? This is an important detail.
In some cases 2nd Vote lists a corporate subsidiary and its parent as separate companies, yet the connection is not made and, due to a lack of experience, may not even be known. In other cases a subsidiary is listed with no mention that a parent company even exists. The Boycott List published by LDI includes the name of the parent company, subsidiaries, products, services, and business categories. This information may be used by looking up a particular corporation by name or type of business. The name of the CEO, the corporate address, phone number, website address and any presence on social media are also provided.
The manner in which a corporation is approached is of particular importance and 2nd Vote proffers no guidance in this critical area. LDI has obtained the text of emails sent to many AT&T employees based on the 2nd Vote release, including the CEO, which declares that, “All leaders, staff, employees, and customers of AT&T and its division, DirecTV, will be required to give a reason why they supported the murder…”
Staff? Employees? Even customers? They all supported murder? Even though most had no idea? Not only is this spiritually unsound, it is not the kind of statement that will convince a CEO to do the right thing. Rather, in most cases it will harden the CEO’s position. Yet the same points can be made using rhetoric that does not come across in a way that a CEO will refuse to read it. It is a proven fact that 10 percent of effective communication is based on what is said. The other 90 percent is based on how it was said. How would you want to be approached if you were a CEO? One rule of thumb is to consider how you would want to be approached if someone wanted to share the Gospel.
Putting aside the fact that AT&T is not a legitimate boycott target, LDI will likely get angry phone calls from corporate officials who want to know why this is happening. We can’t blame them. If any individual can publish a list of “supporters of abortion” or “supporters of Planned Parenthood” or “supporters of baby harvesting,” why should the company listen to anything we have to say? Are CEOs required to work with every individual wanting to make accusations? The best way to kill what LDI has been successfully doing for 25 years is to undermine our efforts with an “I’m a beginner but I know best” attitude.
An article on the efficacy of boycotts tiled, “Ethics, Morality and Economic Boycotts,” specifically addresses the problem:
Targets of economic boycotts work hard to demoralize leaders of their opposition and cause division among those who should naturally support the effort. Imagine the consequences had the actions of the “Solidarity” movement been undermined by laborers. Imagine the consequences if Lech Wałęsa’s leadership had been routinely criticized. Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe might still be under communist rule…
Another key problem that can greatly hinder the success of a boycott is second-guessing by participants. Boycott leaders must be trusted to decide when an economic action should cease and what demands the offending corporation must meet before this can occur. If every individual decides what constitutes sufficient grounds to end the action, the corporation can ignore boycott leaders. Unity is essential. Similarly, if every individual may decide how much money donated to Planned Parenthood is enough to warrant a boycott, the effort is bound to fail. As Jesus said, “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).
An article authored by Marshall Glickman was published in E/The Environmental Magazine. “[T]he truth is, once you know about a boycott, it is pretty simple to follow. And the good news is that when boycotts are well organized, they can really work.” The article was titled, “Pocketbook Power: How Well-Organized Boycotts Change Corporate Policy.”
What 2nd Vote has done cannot be called “well organized”—or even “somewhat and loosely organized.” The fact is there is no organization whatsoever and pro-life people are presented with a list without explanation. Without background. And in some cases without accuracy. This makes the response far less powerful and does great harm to LDI’s work.
While it is too early to tell, we expect to hear from several corporate officials who will no longer be willing to discuss this matter with us. After all, even if they acquiesce to every one of our demands, it will do them no good. And now they can expect a serious and very vocal backlash from pro-abortion activists. This will result in an unwillingness of virtually every CEO to make any changes. Either way some people will be unsatisfied.
LDI is pleased to see that so many pro-life people are upset by corporate donations to Planned Parenthood. But it is important to have an accurate list of those corporations and proven standard on which the list is built.
Quoting again from “Ethics, Morality and Economic Boycotts,” the point of a boycott “is not to spitefully punish a company for evil deeds…The point is to avoid cooperation with evil—and accurate information will make this possible.” Scripture warns the people of God to “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). But let’s be 100 percent accurate and truthful when we do so.
In his book, Bad Choices: A Look Inside Planned Parenthood, LDI President Douglas R. Scott said, “The Pro-Life Movement will succeed only to the extent that pro-life people are willing to be inconvenienced.” Most of us are willing to be inconvenienced, but this challenge may also require us to sacrifice. And such sacrifice includes willingly and joyously laying our egos and stubbornness at the Foot of Christ. All for the sake of His Kingdom. As William Wilberforce said, “It is the distinguishing glory of Christianity not to rest satisfied with superficial appearances, but to rectify the motives, and purify the heart.”
LDI can be trusted. We have never and will never publish information that has not been checked and rechecked for accuracy. No wonder so many pro-life/pro-family organizations throughout the world recognize LDI as their one source for information about support of Planned Parenthood by corporations and seemingly innocuous nonprofit/charitable organizations.
Twenty-five years ago, Douglas R. Scott, Jr., LDI’s president, was the first recognize and embrace a strategy that had always been the “property” of the political left. It was such a new and surprising strategy that it was covered by the national news media. It is rather amusing how some pro-abortion activists, many of whom are part of the labor movement, criticize LDI for using an “unfair” and “despicable” tactic like boycotting. It seems they truly believe the strategy was reserved for use for the kinds of causes they embrace. And how dare anti-abortionists use it! And how dare anti-abortionists use it so effectively!”
Our work continues.
Want to contact some corporations that are legitimately on The Boycott List? This should keep you busy for a while! (We encourage you to let the corporate leader know that Life Decisions International was the source of the information.) Please click here to continue. A list of nonprofits associated with Planned Parenthood and/or its agenda may be accessed here.