Planned Parenthood has reopened the website for Choice Works, an initiative spearheaded by Marilyn Minter. Money donated through the project will be used to provide direct services to women, and to fund local and national advocacy campaigns. Originally created as an auction-related charity targeted at artists, Choice Works is now open to donations from the public.
“You know, I think there’s this whole thing where people are embarrassed by abortions,” Minter told ARTnews in a telephone interview, explaining her decision to reopen the nonprofit for donations. “I want to say, ‘Yeah, they do abortions. I’m proud of them.’ Places are suing them because of those lying video tapes and edited video tapes. It’s just getting worse and worse and worse, and I think we have to fight back.”
Minter’s Choice Works effort began last May, when she invited Laurie Simmons and Cindy Sherman to co-chair a Choice Works auction, featuring works donated by male auction house stars like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Richard Serra, Brice Marden, Matthew Barney, and Christopher Wool, in addition to those by female artists such as Mickalene Thomas, Nan Goldin, Deborah Kass, Wangechi Mutu, Sarah Sze, Lisa Yuskavage, and Cecily Brown. The auction brought in a total of $2.1 million for Planned Parenthood, with the number rising to $2.3 million from donations made afterwards. The goal was to target “the boys that make the most money at auction,” as Minter put it.
The decision to reopen Choice Works comes on the heels of the November 27 Planned Parenthood clinic shooting in Colorado Springs, in which a police officer and two civilians were killed and six people were wounded. In addition to this tragedy, the women’s health organization is also currently embroiled in active lawsuits throughout the country, some of which have resulted from the release of videos claiming to depict graphic scenes of botched abortions conducted in Planned Parenthood facilities, which have since been discredited.
With Choice Works donations open to the general public, anyone can give any amount of money online, without having to go through an auction.
For the auction event back in May, Minter recalled, “a couple of women said no, and I know their reason was because their work doesn’t do well at auction, and it hurts their whole market. They totally believe in the cause but they can’t afford to put their work out at auction. I don’t want to name names, but a lot of the big name [male artists] turned us down.”
One artist, Robert Gober, declined to participate in the auction, but gave $15,000 of his own money to Planned Parenthood.
With Choice Works reopened, Minter is especially eager to target young people in the art world (“the guys that made those edited, lying video tapes were young!” Minter noted) via private fundraising events and has created campaign buttons that wittily read: “Planned Parenthood / Don’t fuck with them / Don’t fuck without them.”
To honor her efforts, Planned Parenthood will be presenting Minter with their Woman of Valor award at their annual luncheon on April 11, 2016.
“They don’t even know what we’re talking about in England and France,” Minter said. “They’re like, ‘What do you mean you can’t get abortions?’ When we did Choice Works, we were trying to get the Frieze [art fair] girls involved—they’re British—and they were like, ‘What do you mean you can’t get abortions on demand?’ Nobody pickets in England. The same [goes for] France. Our [country’s] puritanical background is the cause of this Republican agenda to police women’s bodies.”
“Anyway,” she said, “Choice Works will stay open until Hillary wins.”