Did Urban Outfitters Submit To Pro-Life Demands?

A few weeks ago, I heard about a great new project: Urban Outfitters, a clothing store mostly targeted at college students and 20-and-30-somethings, decided to start selling Proper Attire condoms on its website.  The proceeds of the condom sales would go toward Planned Parenthood’s reproductive healthcare services. 

Strangely, the condoms were marketed mostly toward women, even though Urban Outfitters carried men’s clothes, but the campaign seemed mostly to be clever and well-intended.  The site offered explicit information about condom use, and the contraceptives came with an 800 number that would connect the caller with their local Planned Parenthood, a direct route to general women’s health information.  The condoms themselves had a clever tagline: “Proper Attire: Insist on a dress code. It’s required for entry.” 

It seemed like a fantastic campaign, and a good way for Urban Outfitters to redeem itself after a series of scandals (most recently, a t-shirt with “Eat Less” printed on the front). 

But of course, this stirred a small firestorm within the anti-abortion/anti-contraception/pro-life community.  Rita Diller, National Director of STOP Planned Parenthood, a project of the American Life League, emailed her supporters, an email that was soon circulating among, according to RH Reality Check’s Eleanor Bader, “dozens of local anti-choice and church groups and…major national organizations including the Alliance Defense Fund, Women of Grace, and catholicnewsline.com.”

The next day, Proper Attire condoms were pulled from Urban Outfitters’ online catalogue.  Planned Parenthood’s spokesperson claimed that it was a mutual business decision, and that its supporters were unhappy to learn about the alliance because of Urban Outfitters’ conservative leanings, but Diller’s gleeful response shows that there may have been more at play.  She wrote in an email,

“Retailers should take note that, if they choose to partner with Planned Parenthood or sell any of Planned Parenthood’s products or services, there is a vast network of parents across the country who are ready and willing to protect their children…Parents want to know that they can allow their teens to browse a youth-oriented retailer’s website without being exposed to Planned Parenthood’s sexually oriented merchandise.”

It’s hard to know what really happened here – and certainly, there are reasons for wanting to avoid supporting Urban Outfitters.  Richard Hayne, its founder, has supported right-wing Republicans who have extreme policies against gay marriage and abortion, and it’s hard to believe that he would have okayed these condom sales in the first place.

In any case, the whole fiasco provides yet another reason to avoid Urban Outfitters.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin6 years ago

Mark M. : You rule!

nancy d.
nancy B7 years ago

This makes sense . . . NOT!!! Good example for teaching abstinance only - Sarah Palin's daughter!!! And her baby's daddy.

Rex J.
Rex J7 years ago

It makes no sense whatsoever that anyone who is pro life should be anti birth control. The best way to prevent an abortion is to prevent a unwanted pregnancy in the first place. I am Catholic and I don't agree with the position of our church at all. I think they are backwards thinking and totally wrong. Their very conservative stance on birth control is totally neanderthal. It's time for a smart modern pope to take the Catholic church out of the dark ages. Their anti contraceptive stance is causing abortions to happen. It's not a choice between old and new it's a choice between smart and stupid.

johan l.
paul l7 years ago

It is a great pity that Urban Outfitters gave in to the pro-life community!
I thought it was brilliant!
Rita Diller feels that one protects one's children by being ignorant about condoms?
Mm.. more unplanned pregnancies is what she wants, then!
One other point: Why would one call it a scandal if a shop sells a t-shirt that says "eat less".
Is one forced to buy it.?
If it made only one obese person feel guilty, it was probably worth it!

Elizabeth Feller
Elizabeth Feller7 years ago

It was a great idea as long as it lasted. I love the tag line "Proper Attire: Insist on a dress code. It’s required for entry."

Mark M.
Mark M7 years ago

Meanwhile, I cannot help but wonder how many of these "Puritan", conservative, gay-bashing, all-American pro-life homes refuse to allow children who are approaching, in, or past puberty (and sexually active) to, say, play a ridiculously violent video game or watch "Saw" instead of reading, oh, Steinbeck or Ibsen, or if they ever protested that 100,000 Iraqis were killed in the fraudulent invasion to find the WMDs, or that thousands of Americans are shot dead every year with unlicensed guns. It seems to me that these self-righteous protests that jam so-called compassionate Bible views down the throats of a secular nation must in part be some attempt to rule the kingdom of the family (even those so not their own) and compensate for lax parenting skills. After all, wasn't there a spike in teen pregnancies not so long ago? Has it not been shown that there is a remarkable lack of frank, honest and elucidating talk about sex between parents and youngsters in conservative homes? Is it true that some of the most religious sections of the country have some of the highest divorce rates, and might some of those failed marriages involve some extra-curricular canoodling? It's very commendable to want to help set young people on the right path; it's quite another to meddle aggressively, to domineer, to shout down the helpfulness of others, while the stain of hypocrisy and self-interest spreads across ostensibly good works.

Vondi Howe
Vondi H7 years ago

Someone said, " if you want fewer abortions, then suport brith control. If you want fewer sexually transmitted diseases, then support the use of condoms. "
And yep, i agree but if UO selling condoms can help prevent either or BOTH just to a slight degree, what's wrong with that.

Buying them in a pharmacy or grocery or other place may invite more exposure than adding them to purchases at OU. Stopping at the drugstore before a date may be a little obvious... stopping at OU may be not so obvious. Or the woman may be moe comfortable there. After all as someone mentioned: it has always been the Man's Area of control.

It is time the woman has that right too. "Proper Attire: Insist on a dress code. It’s required for entry."

And I'm a STRONG proponent of abstinence so I'm not condoning sexual activity outside of marriage, but let's make it possible for those who do engage in it to do so safely and more easily.

Mary L.
Mary L7 years ago

If you disagree, write a letter to Urban Outfitters and let them know you aren't thrilled with their choice.
Twitter http://twitter.com/urbanoutfitters
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/plugins/likebox.php?id=13473238797&width=292&connections=0&stream=false&header=false&height=62

Curiously I couldn't find an email or snail mail address from a cursory glance.

Kate F.
Kate F7 years ago

i believe uo was ON THE RIGHT TRACK in having the condoms aimed towards women, very wise. usually, the condoms have been aimed towards the man - that may have been less effective, merely because THE PRICE MEN PAY FOR UNPROTECTED SEX IS RELATIVELY LOW!!!

it is the girl who has the baby
it is the girl, who more easily gets the std
it is the girl who needs to clean up after sex
it is the girl who is called the slut - even now a days!

if women have the condoms in their hands, they can be more in control, and if it is appealing to buy them, such as what uo was trying to advocate, there would be a lot fewer unwanted babies being born.

i am sure we all can understand the right to life desires, but we can also understand that teens are going to have sex, so if they have sex that is more protected, the right to life issue wouldn't even have to be addressed!!!

i say, put the condom in the girl's/ women's hands, THAT IS WHERE THE RESPONSIBILITY LAYS!!! the boys/men have so little to lose, and apparently, condoms aren't that comfortable, so they are going to try to get out of wearing them - understandable, but it is the girl who pays (for the most part).

right to lifers are mainly women, i know, but we still need to make it a non-issue, so that these women can focus on something else, equally important to them, God wiling!! so again i say, PROVIDE THESE CONDOMS TO THE GIRLS, just as uo has been trying to do!!!

sandra lee chavez

ik think its not so much as stopping pregnancy,its preventing disease.