In this corner: Pro-choice bloggers and two San Francisco Chronicle columnists (Jon Carroll and Ruth Rosen) who object that the owner of Curves fitness centers donates money to prolife activities. In the other corner: Planned Parenthood? Yes, in that Planned Parenthood has come to Curves owner Gary Heavin's defense against accusations, such as Rosen's, that he has donated "to some of the most militant anti-abortion groups in the country."
Rebecca Traister of Salon has written a well-researched article that, while expressing sympathies for the idea of boycotting businesses owned by prolifers, also treats Heavin accurately and fairly.
Traister covers this volatile story with Salon's usual wit: "Curves locations are so ubiquitous that they seem to act as antimatter counterparts to business brethren like McDonald's and Starbucks, popping up on every corner to suck that extra fat right back."
But the especially rewarding material in Traister's report is when she quotes Pam Smallwood, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Central Texas:
By phone, she emphasized that there has been a lot of "misinformation" on the Web regarding the Curves founder. The Heavin-supported Family Practice Center, she said, "is a very necessary and worthwhile organization in Waco. They don't practice abortions, but they are a primary care facility for indigent populations and people who are uninsured. Without it, thousands of people would not be able to receive medical care." As for the Care Net Pregnancy Crisis Center, Smallwood said, "Although we don't agree certainly on abortion, they do not participate in demonstrations against our organization, as some other groups do." And about the McLennan County Abstinence Project, Smallwood said, "Again, we don't agree with each other's approaches regarding sex education. But they are not in the business of attacking us or demonstrating in front of Planned Parenthood, as are some of the organizations it was initially suggested Mr. Heavin was connected to. I have no idea how that information got started," she said.
Both sides of the abortion debate have practiced boycotts at various times. As Traister writes,
Ten years ago, I had probably already scarfed my weight in Domino's pizza when someone hazily mentioned to me, in my sophomore year of college, that the company's owner was a vocal and wealthy supporter of anti-abortion groups. The story, which was true and inspired a Domino's boycott by the National Organization for Women, had been passed by word of mouth for years. Now, it only takes minutes to make sure that every wired, politically conscious consumer knows where not to spend their money.
Life Decisions International keeps a long list of organizations it boycotts because of their support for Planned Parenthood, among other reasons.
Both Carroll and Rosen referred to a feature story that appeared in Today's Christian, a magazine published by Christianity Today International. (Both columnists mistakenly said the article appeared in Christianity Today.) Today's Christian was, until this year, known as Christian Reader. Journalists who have followed the Jack Kelley saga may remember that the now-disgraced Kelley once told Christian Reader about his Christian faith, and how he tried to apply it to his work as a reporter at USA Today.
A note to the Christians among our readers: If Today's Christian wants to write about you, be prepared for extensive ideological fallout. In some quarters of the left, it's officially the Journal of Record for enemy territory.