By Howard Koplowitz
Advocates from Planned Parenthood spiced up the race between state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and former City Councilman Tony Avella last week when the group handed out condoms to patrons at Bayside bars that urged residents to “protect yourself” from Padavan as a way to highlight what they said was the senator’s anti-women agenda.
The group spoke to customers at Bourbon Street about Padavan’s voting history and handed out the condoms packaged in matchbox-style paper with the message: “Protect Yourself From Frank Padavan.” Underneath the phrase read, in parentheses, “In This Election.”
The back of the condom highlighted one of five reasons Planned Parenthood said voters “should say no to Frank Padavan.”
“We’re encouraging voters to practice safe sex and practice safe voting,” said Erica Sackin, media content and outreach manager for Planned Parenthood of New York City. “We’ve been targeting Padavan’s district for a while because he’s been pretty steadily anti-choice … and a lot of voters in this district don’t realize.”
Padavan could not be reached for comment.
A spokesman for Avella, who is being supported by Planned Parenthood, declined to comment on the creative concept, other than saying his campaign “was uninvolved in the activity.”
Planned Parenthood also gave out cards with five reasons not to vote for Padavan, including his votes against requiring insurance companiesï»¿ from covering mammograms and making sure insurance companies covered birth control.
It also said the senator “refuses to support our teens getting life-saving comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education” and “voted against cracking down on violence against heath-care workers on the job and at home.”
The organization also quoted Padavan as saying emergency contraception was a “very dangerous drug that could do a lot of harm,” but gave no context to the quote.
Sackin said the condoms were being distributed “in a fun way to encourage people to vote.”
“We really think it’s important for people to understand who they’re voting for,” she said.
The condoms were modeled on a similar effort from Planned Parenthood’s national organization, when “Protect Yourself From John McCain” condoms were distributed in 2004 when he ran for president.ï»¿
The McCain version had 10 reasons why not to vote for the Arizona senator for president while the Padavan variety has five reasons.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.