Ever since an antiabortion front group released heavily edited videos attacking Planned Parenthood in 2015, defunding the health organization has been a favorite topic of Republicans (though not, maybe, of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump). A new pro-choice website, called DefundRefund is trying to change the rhetoric by acting like a political version of a “swear jar”: the more politicians talk about defunding Planned Parenthood, the more pro-choice supporters will donate in the GOP’s name.
Nick Elliott, the creative director who designed the site, was inspired the day after a Republican debate in September. All 11 candidates pledged to defund Planned Parenthood; Elliott happened to read a comment online by someone who responded by donating to the nonprofit “in honor of the Republican party,” and realized he could set up a way for anyone to easily do the same thing.
“After that it was just a matter of finding the right donation model and making it a reality,” he says.
On the site, Elliott pulls choice quotes from Republican congresspeople and presidential candidates, and then places a donation button next to each, letting you give in honor of, say, Ted Cruz saying: “We should not be funding a criminal enterprise that is committing felonies.” “All the quotes are pulled from recent statements made along the campaign trail,” says Elliot. “You don’t have to pay attention for long to see that they’re all basically repeating themselves. Unfortunately repeating something doesn’t make it true, and the quotes are selected in order to provide a true-to-life range of the rhetoric.”
Once a week, the project sends a check to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, along with a form that notes which donors gave on behalf of each politician.
The website hopes to point out the growing disparity between political rhetoric and public opinion. “We believe it’s time to get in front of the narrative and say that 81% of Americans want abortion to be legal and available, even if they have nuanced opinions about circumstances,” he says. “When you compare any of these figures to the absolute terms in which GOP leaders are speaking, it’s pretty clear their opinions are out of sync with the silent majority. And DefundRefund gives us a chance to prove it with our pocketbooks.”
Ultimately, he’s hoping that there will be enough support that politicians take notice. “We’re out to change the conversation from the top down,” he says. “If it gains enough traction, I think DefundRefund can become a sizable thorn in the side of those trying to advance the extremist agenda. If and when they actually stop threatening Planned Parenthood, we’re more than happy to take the site down.”