The recent online “war” between pro-life activists and abortion advocates over Susan G Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood had me thinking a lot about a previous electronic skirmish that didn’t make the news…
Last May, NARAL Pro-Choice America (yes, they actually call themselves that) thought it would be fun to get their supporters to take pictures of themselves holding signs showcasing their support for the mission of NARAL – i.e. legal abortion on demand through all nine months and for any reason. They created a Flickr photostream where individuals could upload their photos, and the photostream could then be embedded on other websites. They put out alerts to their members, telling them to join in what some were referring to as an online photo-petition to Congress.
Then we showed up.
LifeSiteNews, Jill Stanek, SFLA, and other pro-life outlets began encouraging their supporters to flood NARAL’s Flickr photostream with pro-life images and signs. That flood grew throughout the day and continued into the night, and by the next morning, NARAL employees awoke to find THOUSANDS of pages (not photos, but pages of photos) filled with pro-life images. Some images were sad (post-abortive women holding signs, graphics of aborted children), some were funny (photoshopped NARAL signs with ridiculous messages, a Darth Vader doll identifying himself as an abortion advocate, etc), and some were rocks (I kid you not, some folks just uploaded random images that had nothing to do with abortion whatsoever, all in an effort to flood the photostream).
It may not have done much in the large scheme of things, but it did accomplish two primary things:
- Pro-lifers from across the spectrum were united in a simple online action, and had fun doing it – something that is essential to avoiding burnout among long-term activists.
- Abortion advocates were forced to recognize that we too have an extensive online community of e-activists that are capable of making out voices heard – or in this case, visualized.
The notion that pro-lifers are a motley crew of technologically-inept fools has been gradually worn down over the past few years, and we’re now at the point where life-affirming organizations are not only embracing new technology and social media, but excelling at their use of it in advocacy efforts (I’m looking at you, AbolishAbortion.com and Live Action!)
Last week, we saw Planned Parenthood supporters unleash a massive Internet-based campaign to punish Susan K Komen for the Cure after they decided to not renew any funding contracts with PP. It was somewhat successful, and SGK reversed course (sort of….some wonder if they themselves even realize what their stance is, now). The “We-love-Planned-Parenthood-and-can’t-stand-pro-lifers” sentiment that many in the mainstream media hold was evident, and PP received not only glowing coverage and kid-glove treatment, but also a flood of donations - $3 million, according to a recent press release.
But most (if not all) of the approximately $3 million Planned Parenthood raised last week went into their Breast Health Fund, and not to a general fund that could be used for advocacy efforts. If PP decides to use that money for something other than breast exams, it could damage their integrity in the eyes of many donors.
And according to the most recent data available, PP had seen a HUGE drop in private contributions – over $84 million in one year alone! So fine, they raised $3 million…they’ve still got $81 million to go in order to make up the loss!