What Do Disney, Trader Joe’s and Planned Parenthood Share?

Amie Newman

If one out of four Orange County residents use Planned Parenthood because they trust the health center provides excellent care, why did anti-choice lawmakers vote to strip funding from this same center just months ago?

Updated, 5:05pm EST, 4/11/10

What do Trader Joe’s, Disney, Planned Parenthood and In-N-Out Burger have in common? Can’t possibly fathom? I’ll tell you: they were all chosen as Orange County, California’s “Most Trustworthy Brands” by residents as part of a survey. From Planned Parenthood:

The survey was conducted by OC Metro and The Values Institute at DGWB and “is the result of a five-month survey that asked locals to rate approximately 200 local and national brands on a scale of one to five, with specific focus on five measures of trust: sincerity, ability, concern, consistency and connection. Safeguards were implemented to weed out campaigns intended to manipulate results.”

OC Metro, a twenty-year old publication covering Orange County news, partnered with The Values Institute, an independent think tank associated with the advertising agency, DGWB.

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Planned Parenthood opened its Orange County health center in 1965 to some controversy. But almost a half a century later, it provides services to one in four Orange County residents “despite any political preference.”

In fact, says the OC Metro in its write-up about the contest,

It ran away from the competition in the national survey results in all five categories, but one special mark fell under sincerity. Under the scoring prompt for keeping information confidential, only Planned Parenthood finished with a perfect 5.

What’s perhaps most amazing about this win is how spectacularly it shines a light on how out of touch extreme, anti-choice advocates and lawmakers can be. Last year, Orange County Supervisors voted to cancel a contract with Planned Parenthood for what seemed like nothing more than personal ideology related to legal abortion rather than the facts of the contract itself (which would have funded health education and outreach):

“I think abortion is a moral issue,” said Supervisor Chris Norby before voting to kill the funding. “I don’t believe the county should be funding abortion, and I don’t believe the county really should be involved in funding an organization who performs about 35 percent of the abortions in the country.”

In fact, abortion makes up only seven percent of Orange and San Bernadino Counties Planned Parenthood’s services. Orange County Supervisors voted to cut almost $300,000 to Planned Parenthood last year for a program that would have provided critical information to young people about their reproductive and sexual health including information on contraception, abstinence and how to protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Orange County Supervisors didn’t bother to check whether Orange County residents actually benefited from the health care services Planned Parenthood provides before knee-jerking the decision to cut funding. As Emily Douglas writes on Rewire about the issue last year, if you’re an anti-choice legislator, apparently,

“…you don’t want to fund preventive care services at a provider that offers only legal medical services…you’d like to defund that provider based on personal whims.”

While with these latest survey findings it may be more difficult for anti-choice Orange County lawmakers to continue their independent crusade to block funding to Planned Parenthood, unfortunately there is an update to the story.

Stephanie Kight, Vice President of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernadino Counties told me that after the County Supervisors cut funding for the education program completely, Planned Parenthood re-applied for the grant money – for a breast health program – and were still denied the funds. Being “pro-life” does not extend to ensuring girls’ and womens’ lives are protected. As the Orange County Register reported at the time, on the denial of funds:

In the last fiscal year, Planned Parenthood provided breast health services locally to 18,000 clients through its local offices. Of those, about 300 exams resulted in some form of a breast abnormality. Coincidentally, about 300 women of all backgrounds die each year from breast cancer in Orange County.

That’s 300 lives — some of whom could have, in theory, been helped or possibly even saved if the county was willing to plug its nose and help Planned Parenthood do something most would agree is a good idea.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America says of the recognition, “This acknowledgement of Planned Parenthood in Orange County…echoes what we hear from the millions of patients across the country for whom we provide preventive care, life-saving screenings for cancer and family planning: People trust Planned Parenthood.”

If millions of Americans country-wide depend upon Planned Parenthood for a full range of health care, then the issue at hand isn’t whether you disagree with some of the services provided. It’s that lawmakers should not have the power to strip funding for important health programs based on personal ideology – when so many of their constituents are in need of the services and trust the provider of said services so thoroughly.

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