Wednesday, April 07, 2010


My old friend Bill Berkowitz has a post a Buzz Flash today about a controversy surrounding the Lilith Fair sending money to...pregnancy care centers. Those are the operations that pretend like that's what they are, but are really all about being anti-abortion. I would have never thunk it, would you?

By the way, I know I'm supposed to say anti-choice, but, come on folks, let's all get real, why be shy. To me saying anti-choice just gives credence to saying pro-life.

The following is from BuzzFlash Blog.

Lilith 2010 Runs Into a Headwind of Controversy Over On Again/Off Again Funding of Anti-Abortion Centers

By Bill Berkowitz

The appearance, and then disappearance, of crisis pregnancy centers on the list of Lilith-eligible charities sparks online dust-up.

In the middle of last year, Lilith Fair co-founder Terry McBride announced via Twitter that the all-female festival would make its return in the summer of 2010. Six months later, Lilith 2010 launched its website and announced that the tour would launch on June 27 in Calgary, Canada. An extraordinary array of artists including Erykah Badu, Heart, Indigo Girls, Kelly Clarkson, Loretta Lynn, Mary J. Blidge, Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow, Selena Gomez, have already signed on.  

With so many culture war battles going on at once and Tea Party activities grabbing so much media attention these days, is it any wonder that the battle fought out around the revival of the Lilith Fair summer concert series, didn't appear on most radar screens?

I wouldn't have known anything about it if it wasn't for Jill Stanek bringing it to my attention via her weekly email alert. Stanek is the head of an organization called Born Alive Truth, a decidedly anti-abortion operation that became visible during the 2008 presidential campaign through its persistent attacks on Barack Obama. Stanek, a regular columnist for, also delights in attacking Planned Parenthood of America and all things pro-choice.

So why was she writing about Lilith 2010?

On March 31, in a piece titled "Pro-abort pressure fails: Lilith Fair keeps pregnancy care centers on list of charities,"  Jill Stanek pointed out that a press release issued just days before by Lilith 2010 tour organizers about how the charities that would receive donations would be determined, had engendered quite a "surprise." The "surprise" was that "several pregnancy care centers were included on the list." Stanek noted that it was "A surprise because back in the day Lilith Fair had the reputation of being a feminist and lesbian magnet, both groups being pro-abortion. Sarah McLachlan is also a pro-abort (ironically having previously performed in Rock for Choice concerts)."

A skirmish over which charities would receive funds was now taking place at Lilith 2010's Facebook page, where Lilith fans could nominate charities in their home towns and several at each tour stop would be chosen. (Lilith is scheduled to play in 36 cities across North America and $1 from each ticket will be donated to a local women's charity in each city.)

A few days later, however, Stanek was apparently not so surprised when she reported that Lilith 2010 organizers had dumped the pregnancy care centers (aka anti-abortion enterprises) as potential recipients while keeping maternity homes on the list.

Lilith 101

The Lilith Fair ("a celebration of women in music") was founded in 1997 by Canadian musician Sarah McLachlan, Nettwerk Music Group's McBride and Dan Fraser, and New York talent agent Marty Diamond. It featured only female solo artists and female led bands (both well-known and lesser-known musicians were included.) During its three-year lifespan it not only brought an eclectic mix of female musicians into the spotlight, it raised some $10 million for women's charities throughout North America.

In 1997, Lilith Fair garnered a $16 million gross, making it the top-grossing of any touring festival, and the 16th highest grossing amongst all concert tours that year. Main Stage artists included McLachlan, Tracy Chapman, Jewel, Paula Cole, Suzanne Vega, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Fiona Apple, Joan Osbourne, Cardigans, Emmylou Harris, Lisa Loeb, and the Indigo Girls.  There was also a Second Stage of artists, and a section called the Village Stage, which featured mostly local artists who performed at one or two venues.

McLachlan apparently took the name from the medieval Jewish legend that Lilith was Adam's first wife. There are more Lilith stories, however. According to "Tree of souls: the mythology of Judaism," by Howard Schwartz, Lilith appears as a night demon in Jewish folklore and as a screech owl in Isaiah 34:14 in the King James version of the Bible. In later folklore, Lilith is the name for Adam's first wife. Her story was greatly developed, during the middle-ages, in the tradition of Aggadic midrashim, the Zohar and Jewish mysticism.

The dust up

On March 29, a Lilith-sponsored press release announced that the 2010 Lilith Tour would partner with Involver, "the fastest growing social media technology platform .,. to launch 'Choose Your Charity,' an audience engagement campaign run exclusively through Facebook."

Thus began the Battle of the Charities.

According to the Chicago Reader's Jessica Hopper, fans in Minneapolis and Indianapolis were "given the option of supporting Metro Women's Center and Indianapolis Life Center, respectively—institutions whose approach to women's reproductive health services (especially birth control and abortion) is guided by an explicitly anti-choice agenda. Several other cities, including Atlanta and Seattle, have potential beneficiaries that offer so-called abortion alternatives and faith-driven pregnancy counseling."

When Hopper asked festival organizers to comment "about this apparent change in tack for the historically pro-choice Lilith Fair," Danielle Romeo, a spokesperson from Nettwerk, said: "The primary focus of the selection process will be on those organizations that provide shelter to women in need. We want the fans to have a voice in the selection, and we will strongly consider all feedback on these selected charities when making the final decisions."

Lilith cofounder Terry McBride told Hopper that "The seeding at the start was done with a basic digital search in each market of woman's charities. It's not perfect. Nor could it be, as we simply don't have the local expertise even within our own city of Vancouver." According to Hopper, "McBride insist[ed] that the intent of the contest is to have each community help Lilith select a worthy recipient. The 'seeding' he refers to, aka the initial vetting step, consisted of looking online for woman-focused organizations with federal tax ID numbers. He claims no other criteria were employed."

A few days after her initial report, the Chicago Reader's Hopper reported that the crisis pregnancy centers had been removed from the list of charities eligible for Lilith donations. At the same time, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina was also removed. Hopper noted that "Several anti-choice organizations—faith-based maternity homes, abortion-alternative advocacy centers—remain listed."

Rachel Larris of RH Realty Check pointed out that Becky Smith and Katie Blair, who founded the Facebook Fan page titled "Lilith Fair: No money for crisis pregnancy centers!", released a statement that thanked supporters for rallying "together so quickly around the grave women's rights issue of crisis pregnancy centers." Smith and Blair said that their Facebook page, which began right after the posting of the "Choose your Charities" ballot, "quickly mushroom[ed] to a fan base of over 1200 committed concerned advocates for women's rights. We are so grateful to everyone who wrote an article, an email, a tweet, and started conversations regarding CPCs. While we can claim this as a victory, CPCs continue to misinform women and provide medically unsound information. We urge everyone to continue their activism by spreading the truth about the anti-woman practices of CPCs. Finally, we would like to thank Terry, CEO of the Nettwek Music Group, for moving so quickly on this important women's rights issue."

On April 5, Rachel Larris reported that Lilith 2010 issued a set of criteria for which charities are acceptable to submit at its Facebook page:

Criteria for Candidate Submissions:

A Women's charity with a focus on at least one of the following:

    * Reducing violence against women
    * Providing safety, shelter or recovery to women
    * Helping women achieve independence through education and career development tools
    * Providing access to ensure women's emotional, mental, social and physical well-being needs are been met
    * Focusing on building women's girls, or teens confidence through experiences in volunteering, education, friendships, community involvement, peer support or drop-in services
    * Offering treatment for addiction
    * Offering STD and HIV education and support
    * Providing rape and sexual violence education and support

According to Larris, these "criteria do not explain why CPCs have been removed from the list. In fact, given the lack of guidance on values undergirding any of these services, it is really not clear how this changes things. Certainly, an anti-choice CPC providing misinformation could claim that it 'ensures women's emotional needs are met,' based on its own ideological positions of what those needs are and how to meet them.  Likewise, there is nothing about offering 'peer support' or 'drop-in' services that suggests whether these be accurate or not, ideologically anti-choice or pro-choice and fact-based.

"Confusion remains."

"And it is still not entirely clear why NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina doesn't meet those standards or if any other state NARAL organizations would be qualified. Emails sent to Nettwerk music group asking for clarification did not receive an immediate response."

Fortunately for Lilith 2010morganbizers, the deadline for submission is April 8.

According to some reports, the selection of the charities will ultimately be up to Lilith founders McLachlan, McBride, Dan Fraser, and Marty Diamond.

In light of the great many culture war battles taking place in cities and towns across the country, striking crisis pregnancy centers from Lilith 2010-eligible charities is a victory, albeit a small one. While crisis pregnancy centers were removed, several faith-based organizations remain. And why why NARAL dumped at the same time?

Then there's the question of whether anti-abortion activists will let the issue rest? As Lilith 2010 begins touring the issue of which charities it is supporting will no doubt be raised again, perhaps in the form of demonstrations outside concert venues and/or threatened boycotts. 


 But wait, now I run across another article that makes me wonder if the crisis pregnancy centers have been dropped or not?  It is from Crawdaddy. 

Update: Ambiguous Lilith Fair Nixes CPCs, NARAL; Leaves Other Anti-Choice Groups on "Choose Your Charity" Lists

by: Howard Wyman
[Via Daily Swarm]
After facing swift and substantial backlash for having included anti-choice organizations on its “Choose Your Charity” ballot lists, organizers of the historically pro-choice, all-woman music festival Lilith Fair have removed several crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) from the lists of charities eligible for the large financial donation Fair reps announced last week would be allocated from proceeds of the Fair to the winner of a Facebook-based election. And yet, as of Sunday night, several regrettable  ”abortion alternative”/ maternity homes remain eligible to receive festival funds, including unequivocally anti-choice, religious-right groups such as Our Lady’s Inn (of St. Louis, MS) and Maggie’s Place (on the Phoenix, AZ ballot). Adding to the confusion has been the Fair’s removal of NARAL Pro Choice North Carolina from the Raleigh, NC ballot.
A major voice in the opposition to the Fair’s inclusion of anti-choice groups has come in the form of the Facebook page Lilith Fair: No money for crisis pregnancy centers!, which sprang up shortly after the charity lists were first published. At present, the page has almost 1400 “fans.” On Sunday afternoon the page posted the following statement from Fair organizers regarding the removal of NARAL:
While we recognize and deeply respect the vital efforts NARAL
Pro-Choice Carolina provides regarding women’s voices on the matter of
reproductive rights, we realize that NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina
has been dropped from the ballot because its mission does not fall in
line with the updated criteria of the “Choose Your Charities”
campaign, which primarily focus on direct essential services – this is
also why the amazing direct service provider of reproductive health
care, The Feminist Women’s Health Center, remains on the ballot.
A PDF of the updated official rules and criteria for “Choose Your Charity” campaign eligibility can be found here.

Commenters on the “Choose Your Charity” Facebook page have rightly pointed out that advocacy, fundraising and political engagement are absolutely critical to ensuring women’s access to a full spectrum of reproductive and contraceptive options, and that in our currently political climate, this is just as direct and important a service as those provided by any other groups on the ballot. The Fair’s reasoning for the removal of NARAL is specious at best, and they have yet to offer any specific justification for the continued eligibility of anti-choice groups. What I find strange is that, with over 50 artists slated to perform over the course of the Fair’s 36-city run, not one has apparently come out with any vocal recognition of the controversy either way.

In 1997, when Planned Parenthood was blocked from setting up its booth on the grounds of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion (just north of Houston), Lilith cofounder Sarah McLachlan and fellow performer Joan Osborne rasied a major fuss, and won Planned Parenthood the access it deserved. Today, with its grand return and new-and-improved scheme to support pro-woman, pro-choice organizations directly, citing specific criteria that recipients of its support be providers of direct services to women, Planned Parenthood does not appear on a single ballot for any of the 36 cities. The charity nomination period goes until 10am this Thursday, April 8th, however, and so there’s still plenty of time to let your voice be heard — no purchase necessary.

1 comment:

Oread Daily said...

I'm confused as to whether or not the "crisis pregnancy centers" have been dropped or not. The link below would leave you to think not completely.