Earlier this week, Planned Parenthood began featuring a donation plea on its homepage. What was different about this specific plea, though, was that it cited the rapidly spreading Zika virus and the birth defects it causes as a reason to donate, something which many have said is fear mongering and an immoral business technique.
The message, which is placed in the most prominent spot on the Planned Parenthood’s site, reads, “EMERGENCY: Zika virus is spreading. YOU CAN HELP NOW.”
To most users, Planned Parenthood knows the topic of Zika virus will be relatable and scary, as the virus has been hyped in the American media a lot lately.
In reality, only about 30 people in the States have been affected by Zika, reports the CDC, but many sources say the Zika virus is being blown out of proportion by the media. Nonetheless, the general familiarity with the scourge that is Zika virus will bait many users in to clicking on the Planned Parenthood donation link.
Those users are then brought to a page informing them of the situation in more detail.
“The Zika virus is spreading quickly throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The World Health Organization is estimating up to four million cases over the next year,” the page begins.
So, users begin to gather, this issue is mainly taking place outside the US.
“In a region where many women have limited or no access to birth control and 6 countries ban abortion under all circumstances, the stakes are high. Advocates and health providers are concerned women might turn to life-threatening back-alley abortion procedures out of desperation to avoid the devastating birth defects associated with the virus.”
“Make your emergency gift today to help [Planned Parenthood] and our local partners empower women with the family planning resources and quality, non-judgmental care they need to make empowered, informed choices during this crisis.”
Below the information is a donation form that makes lending financial aid to Planned Parenthood a quick and easy task.
The question: Is including the initial message meant to lure potential donors into clicking on the link (“EMERGENCY: Zika virus is spreading”) an immoral move on Planned Parenthood’s part? Is it an unjust abuse of sensationalism and an appeal to fear?
Many pro-life groups, Planned Parenthood’s longtime antagonists, say yes. Charmaine Yoest, the CEO and president of Americans United for Life, elaborated.
“It is shameful that the abortion industry is trying to capitalize on a health crisis by pushing abortion rather than addressing the actual cause of a real problem.”
Breitbart also chimed in on what it viewed to be Planned Parenthood’s exploitative campaign.
“Planned Parenthood has taken advantage of fears surrounding the Zika crisis in Brazil to promote the expansion of unrestricted abortion throughout Latin America. The abortion business has especially targeted those Latin American countries with restrictive abortion laws, such as El Salvador, in hopes of using the crisis to ease existing abortion legislation.”
While Planned Parenthood’s tactics may not be as upfront as they could be, they might be what some South American countries really need.
After all, Zika virus has been confirmed to correlate directly with fatal birth defects, says a CDC report released earlier today. Measures more extreme than the El Salvadorian policy of cautioning women not to get pregnant during the next two years in order to avoid the virus may need to be taken.
So maybe Planned Parenthood is stepping up with its charity campaign to help mothers with Zika virus. Or maybe Planned Parenthood is unfairly manipulating people by taking advantage of an issue that happens to be big in the news at the moment. What do you think?
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]