Planned Parenthood Gets Freaky!

For a long time, the pro-life movement has had a keen sense of how people respond to incentives. Protesters outside of clinics proved to be a very effective strategy for raising the social and moral costs of seeking an abortion.

Now a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia has come up with a very clever strategy for fighting back, called “Pledge-a-Picket:”

Every time protesters gather outside of our Locust Street health center, our patients face verbal attacks from them. They see graphic signs meant to confuse and intimidate. They are sometimes blocked from entering the building and occasionally they are videotaped. They are offered anti-choice propaganda and free rides to the closest “crisis pregnancy center.”

Staff and volunteers are also seen as targets. We are all called murderers, are lectured to about committing sins, and are told we will pay the “ultimate price” for our actions.

Here’s how it works: You decide on the amount you would like to pledge for each protester (minimum 10 cents). When protesters show up on our sidewalks, Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania will count and record their number each day from October 1 through November 30, 2005. We will place a sign outside the health center that tracks pledges and makes protesters fully aware that their actions are benefiting PPSP. At the end of the two-month campaign, we will send you an update on protest activities and a pledge reminder.

My prediction: abortion clinics around the country will soon be adopting this approach.

(Thanks to Gordon Morrison for forwarding me this link.)

Freakonomics Trivia Question: Which of the Freakonomics authors, as a child, drew “abortion is murder” posters to aid his mother’s fight against legalized abortion?

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I believe Patagonia, the clothing company, has been doing this for a while.

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  2. Tim of Angle says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Here is an article about that strategy, from 2001.

    http://archive.salon.com/mwt/feature/2001/02/09/donations/print.html

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  5. Isn’t PPSP substituting a financial incentive for a moral incentive? At the least isn’t PPSP muddying the waters when it comes to its appeal?

    The pro-lifers are acting based on morality which according to Levitt is at many points opposed to economics. So, how is it that pro-abortionists could hope to compete financially with a group that appeals on an emotional and moral level first and to multiple target audiences (prospective patients, donors, communities, and volunteer bases)?

    Wouldn’t that be a throw back to the childcare $3 per child per instance late fee?? Based on that premise, wouldn’t picketing at those particular clinics only go up and in the end incite more giving and involvement of the pro-lifers?!?!

    Travis Johnson

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  6. Ray says:

    I guess Dubner as the childhood picket sign scribe.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    the problem isn’t the number of protesters, it is how they behave. If it were my clinic, I’d use the money raised this way to take the protesters to lunch, to get to know them in small meetings. To find out what they think and why they think it. After many lunches, I’d try to get everyone else who works at the clinic to do the same thing. And then, finally, I’d try to get our clients to attend these lunches with us. I would encourage them to attend by telling them that to do so would be courageous, tolerant, and an example of giving back — that by attending they would be making it easier for others in their situation to get help.

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  8. 3612 says:

    Trivia question answer: Dubner.

    Perhaps it was the tenacity and moral conviction he learned from his mother that gave him the right stuff to make this recent post, albeit from the opposite side of the debate.

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