Jodie Ostrovsky, who runs an ice cream shop called “What’s The Scoop?” in Portland, Oregon, didn’t expect to wade into the culture wars. But that’s exactly what happened when she agreed to do a fundraiser with Planned Parenthood. After right-wing groups caught wind of the fact that What’s The Scoop? dedicated an ice cream flavor to the women’s health organization, the nasty comments started pouring in.
“Some of them have been scary,” Ostrovsky told the Willamette Week. “We’ve gotten quite a number of phone calls, a lot of Facebook stuff — we’ve gotten comments through the form on our web page. Some of them are bizarre and odd. We don’t know why they’re telling us that we have problems when they’re saying terrible, threatening things.”
Ostrovsky has worked with Planned Parenthood before without much incident, so she was surprised to spark so much controversy this month. The difference appears to be that this partnership — which involved creating a new flavor called “Rose City Revolution” for a Planned Parenthood fundraiser, which was sold at Ostrovsky’s shop for a three-hour window last week, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the women’s health group — was covered on LifeNews.com.
“Abortion giant Planned Parenthood has announced that a local ice cream parlor has created an ice cream just for them. No it will not be called Blood and Scream!” the anti-abortion site reported at the end of last week.
Soon, the ice cream parlor’s Facebook page was inundated with criticism. “Mmmm…murdered baby flavor,” one individual wrote. “Thank you for supporting underage girls to be raped by their stepfather then go to planned Parenthood and get a no questions asked abortion,” another posted.
“Good grief! It’s an ice cream flavor, people!” a Planned Parenthood affiliate responded on its own Facebook page.
Ostrovsky told the Portland Eater that her staff is “still wrapping our minds around the reactions,” but she didn’t back down from her support for the reproductive health organization. “Planned Parenthood is an amazing organization that does so much to help women have access to affordable healthcare,” she said. “The fact that some people only focus on what is such an infinitesimal part of the service they provide is confusing to me.”
This isn’t the only example of persistent anti-abortion activism impacting the food industry. In a different city named Portland — the one located in Maine — a popular sandwich shop actually closed its doors because the surrounding area was too swarmed with protesters picketing the nearby Planned Parenthood clinic. The owner said he was exhausted from battling the protesters, and was even losing business because their graphic signs and persistent chants dissuaded potential customers from visiting his shop.
And across the country, anti-abortion harassment affects much more than ice cream and deli sandwiches. Protesters outside of clinics can actually intimidate patients who are going there to access medical services. Women are sometimes too nervous to enter clinics because they’re confronted with emotional attacks — or, in some cases, physical violence — from the protesters outside, which is why many reproductive health facilities enlist volunteer clinic escorts to help accompany patients to their destination. Although a fixed buffer zone around clinics represents one proactive policy that can help women avoid this type of harassment, the Supreme Court recently ruled they go too far to impede protesters’ free speech rights.