A Washington-based pro-life organization has found another reason to boycott The Disney Company — it gives money to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the country's leading provider of abortions.
At a January news conference unveiling a new advertising campaign aimed at informing the public of Planned Parenthood's agenda, Life Decisions International announced it had added Disney to its list of boycotted corporations. LDI released a list of more than sixty corporations on its boycott list for their financial support of Planned Parenthood.
LDI joins the Southern Baptist Convention and such organizations as American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, and Focus on the Family that have called for a boycott of the entertainment giant because of corporate policies that support homosexuality and entertainment products that denigrate Christianity and the family.
In announcing Disney's addition to LDI's boycott list, Will Dodson, a Southern Baptist public-policy specialist and a member of LDI's board of directors, said the SBC called for the boycott at its 1997 meeting because of mostly "internal policies … we believe to be contrary to that which is best for society."
"Now we see that Disney is not just a company that ideologically embraces such policies, it also funds those organizations that would destroy the basic fabric of society," said Dodson, director of public policy for the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "This is one of the most compelling reasons to date for concerned citizens to exercise their freedom to choose not to support a corporation which is increasingly engaged in promoting an agenda which is contrary to traditional values.
"I challenge all of those who share a belief that life is a precious gift from God to take their moral stewardship seriously and refrain from contributing to Disney or any other corporation whose proceeds contribute to the degradation of human life."
Disney's latest philanthropic report showed it contributed to Planned Parenthood but did not reveal how much, LDI President Douglas Scott said.
More than 150,000 abortions were performed in 1996 in Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics in the United States. PPFA has 142 affiliated chapters and about 900 health-care clinics, a spokeswoman for the organization said. About 30 percent of its clinics provide abortion services, she said.
LDI combats Planned Parenthood's agenda in Washington while assisting citizens who challenge the abortion rights organization in their communities. LDI also keeps track of corporations that contribute to PPFA, seeking to persuade them to withhold support and including those who refuse to do so on its boycott list.
Since Scott began his corporate watchdog project in 1989, fifty-three companies are known to have ceased their support of PPFA. Among those whose reversal has been public are AT&T, Eastman Kodak, Xerox, and J.C. Penney, according to LDI officials.
In addition to Disney, other corporations on LDI's current boycott list are American Express, General Mills, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Levi-Strauss, Merrill Lynch, The New York Times, Prudential Insurance, and Sony.
On Jan. 21, about 500 people attended a PPFA breakfast to kick off a day of lobbying on Capitol Hill. The event was held on the eve of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's 1973 decision legalizing abortion.
Tipper Gore, wife of Vice President Al Gore, was scheduled to speak at the PPFA event but canceled because of illness, the spokeswoman for the organization said. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala and actress Kathleen Turner, national chairman of PPFA's board of advocates, spoke, the spokeswoman said.
At its news conference, LDI announced a new advertising campaign designed to educate Americans on what it called the "extreme" views of Planned Parenthood, which supports abortion rights throughout pregnancy. The radio, television, and newspaper ads focus on PPFA's opposition to laws requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortions, its taxpayer-funded distribution of free birth control, and its nearly $50 million a year in abortion fees.
LDI will provide the ads for local pro-life groups.
"Planned Parenthood is to the culture of death what Microsoft is to computer software," LDI board chairman Michael Schwartz said at the news conference. PPFA "makes money only when mothers have abortions, not when they have choices," he said.
The SBC and others have cited the following among their reasons in calling for a boycott of Disney:
• extending health benefits to the partners of its homosexual employees.
• cooperation with homosexuals holding "Gay Days" at its theme parks, though the company does not sponsor the events.
• distribution through its subsidiaries of entertainment mocking orthodox Christianity, such as the movie Priest and the ABC-TV show Nothing Sacred.
• the "coming out" of the lead character and the increasingly homosexual story line of the ABC show Ellen.
• publication by subsidiaries of books promoting homosexuality, such as Growing Up Gay.