Planned Parenthood in Utah dropped plans to distribute condoms printed with a Mormon symbol after backlash from the conservative Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
The abortion giant said on Wednesday the condoms with the LDS symbol were for a limited series intended to initiate dialogue about sexual health. But the LDS church claims it owns the rights to the symbol and did not give Planned Parenthood permission to use the trademark.
Planned Parenthood made the condoms for the 2016 Salt Lake Summer Symposium, an annual event run by Sunstone magazine discussing Mormon faith and culture. After an avalanche of criticism over a preview post on Facebook, Planned Parenthood said it no longer plans to distribute the condoms.
The condom wrappers were stamped with a shield design bearing the letters CTR, which stands for the Mormon phrase “Choose the Right.” The phrase is derived from an LDS hymn written in the early 1900s. The logo appears on rings worn by Mormon children and teenagers—similar to purity rings in that they serve as a reminder to make moral decisions in line with the church’s values, including sexual abstinence before marriage. The LDS Church created the CTR rings in the 1970s as a way to counter the sexual revolution.
Planned Parenthood claimed it intended to “use this imagery to foster an important conversation about condom use and safe sex in the big-tent LDS community.”
But the “safe-sex” message contradicts Mormon beliefs, church leaders noted. They expressed outrage that the nation’s largest abortion provider sexualized a religious symbol to advertise free contraception.
Stanford Swim, chairman of the Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based think tank, said individuals “do deserve the truth about safe sex—which is that it is safest to share a sexual relationship only with their marital partner.”
The church has declined to say whether it is considering a lawsuit, but patent attorney Randall Bateman said the use of the LDS logo could be seen as false endorsement.
“If some percentage of the population would see that and think, ‘Oh, these are somehow sponsored by the LDS Church or approved by the LDS Church,’ then that would be trademark infringement,” he said.
— by Ciera Horton | WNS