Actions speak louder than words. That's what I was thinking when I heard that Verizon, the second-largest U.S. mobile company, had refused to allow NARAL Pro-Choice America to send opt-in text messages to its members (then reversed its decision on Thursday morning after a storm of criticism).
Let me repeat that: Verizon would not allow NARAL to send its members text-message alerts that these members had opted to receive.
Not that it should come as a surprise that Verizon would behave in such a away. After all, it's public record that they have given millions to right-wing candidates. And Verizon had the distinction of acting alone: the mobile monolith was the only carrier that exercised corporate censorship in blocking the text messages.
In initially turning down the program, Verizon had told NARAL that it does not accept programs from any group "that seeks to promote an agenda or distribute content that, in its discretion, may be seen as controversial or unsavory to any of our users."
Unsavory? How's this for unsavory: Verizon believes it can quash an organization's communications to its own members. As the CEO of a mobile company that has a mobile text activism program, and as a reproductive-rights activist, I know that there is another way.
I don't just call for choice. I march for choice: on Washington, D.C. in 2004. I advocated for family planning in Ethiopia, where I saw how, thanks to the Bush administration's global gag rule, families had no more access to reproductive services. And I continue to run a proudly pro-choice mobile company.
The truth is, as consumers, we still have a choice in phone companies. We can choose to be a part of a pro-choice company, like Working Assets, which has donated over two million dollars to women's organizations like NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood since its inception, or we can stick with Verizon. I know I'm happy with my choice. Are you?