Some California lawmakers are upset that Planned Parenthood delivered condoms to their offices in Valentine’s Day gift packages that used a profane word in their message.
State Sen. Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) said in a statement that he took offense to the phrase printed on the condom wrappers, which read, “Don’t … with us. Don’t … without us.”
“Aside from its vulgarity, it is a veiled threat and a strong-arm tactic — something I don’t appreciate, particularly when it appears to also be directed at our staff,” Morrell said in the statement Thursday. “Communicating such an overtly crude and sexualized message is inappropriate in any workplace, including here at the capitol.”
Senate GOP leader Shannon Grove of Bakersfield wrote in a comment on Facebook that her office also received one of the packages.
“Really???? This is how PP communicates with members of the state legislature,” she wrote. “Good thing I stoped a group of kids from seeing it in my office......#Crass #disgusting #Vulgar.”
Morrell said he believes that the delivery violated the standards of conduct that legislators are taught during training to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation. He called on Democratic leadership to condemn the move.
But Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) defended the organization.
“While the phrasing on the wrapper is a bit cheeky for a professional workplace, I also can appreciate the boldness of Planned Parenthood’s messaging, and the opportunity to promote safe sex practices,” Atkins said in a statement. “This is an organization committed to providing quality, affordable reproductive health care to millions of people, and yet is constantly under attack by the far right and the federal administration.
Another state lawmaker also seemed to appreciate the gift. Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) tweeted a picture of the package and tagged Planned Parenthood, writing, “Thank you for the amazing work you do.”
Jennifer Wonnacott, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said in a statement that the packages, which also included a notecard and candy, were delivered to all legislative offices at the state Capitol and were intended to highlight the importance of safe sex.
“Planned Parenthood is proud to advocate and promote safe sex, and we will continue to highlight the importance of sexual and reproductive health care with all legislators, especially in light of federal attacks,” she said. “Furthermore, if we want to talk about harassment and threats, we can give real examples of the threats made against patients and providers every day to try to stop access to care — both in front of health care centers and by the federal government.”
The Trump administration warned California in January that it must stop requiring health insurance plans in the state to provide abortion coverage or risk losing federal money. In a response Friday, the state said it would continue with the requirement and accused the administration of illegally threatening to withhold federal aid to California to try to force a change.