Planned Parenthood supporters delivered petitions with 50,000 signatures to the Royals on Friday demanding the team cut ties with an anti-abortion group that advertises during games.
About 10 volunteers delivered the petitions to the front office at Kauffman Stadium.
The anti-abortion group, Vitae Foundation, is a nonprofit that counsels pregnant women to visit help centers as an alternative to abortion. Abortion rights groups say the health centers mislead women.
The foundation advertises on Royals radio broadcasts and in an announcement during the half-hour before games. The foundation’s logo is also shown on the Crown Vision scoreboard along with other advertising announcements.
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Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, director of communications and marketing for Planned Parenthood Great Plains, called the Royals’ relationship with the foundation a partnership, not just an advertising sponsorship.
“We really want to hear definitively from the Royals that they will drop this partnership,” Lee-Gilmore said. “If they continue to take this stance that they don’t take a stand on anything that is politically polarizing, then we want to hear the Royals be very clear in telling us that they don’t actually have a partnership and they are being misrepresented by Vitae Foundation.”
The Royals have worked with the Vitae Foundation since the beginning of the 2016 season. Mike Swanson, Royals vice president for communications and broadcasting, has said that “separate from the ad campaign and as a general manner of practice, the club takes no official position on culturally sensitive issues.” He could not be reached for comment Friday.
Lee-Gilmore said UltraViolet, a woman’s advocacy group, asked to buy an ad at the Royals’ stadium and was rejected. UltraViolet first urged the Royals to cut ties with the Vitae Foundation earlier in June.
Karren Crouch, who helped deliver the petitions, said she has season tickets but won’t attend games next season if the Royals continue airing Vitae’s ads. Crouch is a former Planned Parenthood board member.
“I can understand them not wanting to take a position either way, but I’m dumbfounded that they let themselves get in the middle of a political lightning rod like this,” Crouch said.