Pro-choice jujitsu

Published December 23, 2004 4:05PM (EST)

Several Planned Parenthood locations across the country have hit upon a clever way to profit from the throngs of protesters who picket abortion clinics -- a fundraising drive in which the clinic receives a donation for each picketer who shows up. Under the Pledge-a-Picket program, as described in a recent article in the Planned Parenthood newsletter, supporters pledge small amounts -- a quarter to a dollar -- per anti-choice protester. "It's like sponsoring a runner in a charity marathon," the newsletter says. Despite the small pledges, the money adds up for the clinics because "the picketers never go away."

The idea is that the Pledge-a-Picket program creates a "no-win" situation (or is it "no-choice"?) for the protesters: Their presence actually benefits the very organization they're protesting. The Planned Parenthood clinic in Waco, Texas, has hung a sign outside that constantly updates how much money it has raised under the program, so picketers can see that their efforts are backfiring. In the last two years, the protesters have helped the clinic raise more than $18,000, which the clinic has spent on an assistance fund for low-income women in the community.

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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