They call it a "gift," but some would rather opt for a lump of coal.
A number of Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana and Illinois are offering gift certificates for their services this Christmas.
Officials say the vouchers enable people to give their loved ones "the gift of life" — that would help pay for annual checkups and birth control — but also can be used for abortions.
Chrystal Struben-Hall with Planned Parenthood of Indiana said the idea is a response to economic woes that have forced many women to put health care at the bottom of their to-do list.
"People are making really tough decisions about putting gas in their car and food on their table," Struben-Hall said.
Planned Parenthood said the stocking-stuffers — that range in value from $25 to $100 and can be ordered online — are redeemable for health services at clinics throughout the two states and can go to any service offered. "We decided not to put restrictions on the gift certificates, so it’s for whatever people feel they need the services for most," Struben-Hall said.
A number of religious and pro-life groups are outraged, saying that at a time when millions are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Planned Parenthood is offering a gift that could fund an abortion.
"They can and will be used to end the lives of children at Christmas," said Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council. She believes the gift certificates will anger many, even those who are not deeply religious. "A coupon for abortion at Christmastime?" Ruse said. "That’s just inherently offensive, I think, to all Americans."
Planned Parenthood of Indiana said the gift certificates will be especially useful in a state where, they say, 800,000 people are uninsured or cannot afford basic care.
Even the state’s Health Commissioner is calling the certificates a "really meaningful gift."
Christmas controversy is not new to Planned Parenthood. In the mid-1990s it began offering "Choice on Earth" holiday cards. The American Life League called the twist on the "peace on earth" message found in the New Testament book of Luke bigoted "mockery."