Patrick Springer, Published June 28 2013
Abortion clinic donations spark call for boycott
The call to avoid about two dozen businesses listed as contributors to a benefit concert and silent auction came from a contributor to the conservative North Dakota blog “Say Anything.”
Janne Myrdal, who lives on a farm near Park River, wrote a guest post last week urging people to register their disapproval by not patronizing businesses that supported the May 30 fundraiser.
“A fundraiser for abortion? Really? Who on earth would support a fundraiser for a business that kills children and hurts women?” Myrdal wrote in the post.
She concluded: “It is time to make our pro-life convictions real, not just philosophical.”
In an interview, Myrdal, who has participated in prayer vigils in front of the clinic, said her aim was to inform readers.
“We just turned a light on so people are aware of what’s going on,” she said. “We have had overwhelming support for this posting we put out.”
Myrdal said she copied and pasted a list of donors posted on the Facebook page for the Red River Women’s Clinic Benefit.
The organizer for the fundraiser, held at the downtown concert venue The Aquarium, first became aware of a backlash when comments began to appear denouncing the businesses as “disgusting and baby killers.”
The organizer, Callie DeTar, said she wasn’t surprised that the fundraiser sparked opposition, given the passionate views for and against abortion rights.
“I figured there was probably going to be a backlash,” she said, adding that she expected protesters at the benefit concert.
The owner of The Aquarium, Bert Meyers, said through a staff member that the benefit concert was booked through a promoter, but he otherwise declined comment.
Business owners who supported the clinic fundraiser said earlier this week that so far they haven’t noticed a decline in business as a result of the call for the boycott.
“I haven’t heard from any customers,” said Matt Oland, owner of Orange Records.
He said he received an email from a couple who purported to be customers but didn’t recognize them.
“We’re kind of an alternative, counterculture store,” he said.
Despite the call for a boycott, Oland said he doesn’t regret his support for the fundraiser.
“Even with what’s going on I’d still do it again,” he said. “It’s something we support.”
The Forum isn’t publishing the list of donors because it couldn’t independently confirm each of the businesses donated. The list could still be found Friday afternoon on the Facebook page for the Red River Women’s Clinic Benefit.
Although the Hotel Donaldson was listed as a contributor, both on Facebook and Myrdal’s post, the owner said she didn’t have any record of the business making a donation.
“I don’t know where they got that information,” said Karen Stoker, the Hotel Donaldson’s owner.
It’s possible, however, that someone bought a gift certificate from the hotel and offered it, she said.
Emily Beck, manager of the Fargo Theatre, which is listed as a contributor on the benefit’s Facebook page, said the theater gets requests almost daily to contribute to some cause.
The theater often helps out with complimentary tickets, Beck said, but she wasn’t certain whether that happened for the clinic benefit. She said she had no knowledge of a contribution from the theater to the clinic benefit.
Joe Curry, an employee-owner of Red Raven Espresso Parlor, which supported the clinic fundraiser, noted that abortion rights supporters in the past staged a national boycott of Chick-fil-A, a fast-food chain, for its opposition to abortion rights.
“Boycotts are amazing tools that we have as consumers,” he said.
But Curry doubts the call for a boycott will affect Red Raven’s bottom line.
“I personally don’t think it would make a large dent with our clientele,” he said, adding that he hopes publicity about the fundraiser backlash sparks a community dialogue.
Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic, said the call for a boycott is just the latest in a long history of efforts to hamper its operations.
“We appreciate the support from the many individuals and businesses who have supported us over the years and continue to support us,” Kromenaker said. “There’s always going to be people who oppose the care we give at our clinic and will use any resources they have to harass and intimidate our patients.”
Meanwhile, the backlash hasn’t deterred DeTar, who said she plans another fundraiser for the clinic.
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Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522