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Lands’ End apologizes after backlash for featuring pro-abortion icon Gloria Steinem

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A Lands' End bag embellished with the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) Coalition logo.
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Feminist Gloria Steinem featured in Lands' End's catalog. Dante Witt/Stream.org

DODGEVILLE, Wisconsin, February 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A U.S. clothing company known for its family-friendly product apologized for its plan to tout a radical feminist in its catalogue after backlash against the campaign.

Dodgeville, Wisconsin-based Lands' End recently published its spring catalogue, complete with a cover graced by its usual theme of well-scrubbed and dressed adults and children, in this case happily engaged in an Easter egg hunt.

But the problem came once customers looked inside and encountered an extensive interview and photo shoot with abortion advocate Gloria Steinem, titled "Gloria Steinem – The woman who paved the way."

The catalogue spread caused controversy, including both individual customers and faith-based schools ending their relationships with the merchant.

Lands’ End pulled the online edition of the catalogue, which had been accessible via Google cache initially upon being scrubbed from the retailer’s site, but no longer is.

LifeSiteNews inquired with Lands’ End on the status of the campaign, but did not hear back, however the company issued the following statement Wednesday:

We understand that some of our customers were offended by the inclusion of an interview in a recent catalog with Gloria Steinem on her quest for women's equality. We thought it was a good idea and we heard from our customers that, for different reasons, it wasn’t. For that, we sincerely apologize. Our goal was to feature individuals with different interests and backgrounds that have made a difference for our new Legends Series, not to take any political or religious stance.

The interview, conducted by Lands' End CEO Federica Marchionni, was accompanied by a campaign for donations to Steinem's company, "Fund for Women's Equality, Inc." For every Lands' End item monogrammed with an ERA Coalition logo ordered through January 31, 2017, the company will give $3 to the feminist organization.

Steinem was the inaugural subject of Lands' End's "Legend Series," which it stated in the catalogue is "our ode to individuals who have made a difference in both their respective industries and the world at large. We honor them and thank them for paving the way for the many who follow."

"This profile on Gloria Steinem – conducted by Lands' End CEO Federica Marchionni, no less – is revolting," Media Research Center reporter Katie Yoder told The Stream. "A feminist who adores abortion and hates religion doesn't deserve one inch in a catalog that also celebrates Easter and family."

"Families were not happy to see the profile of such a controversial figure in the same catalog that features Easter egg hunts and bright spring fashions," Women of Grace staff writer Susan Brinkmann wrote.

Brinkmann said Steinem's pro-abortion views were "not exactly family-friendly positions."

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Reaction was strong on social media as well.

"How could you interview Gloria Steinem?" one customer asked on Facebook. "She has done so much damage to the dignity of being a wife and a mother. How could Gloria say in the article that 'each person is a unique miracle' and still be pro-abortion? You have lost another customer (and I just spent $200 for dresses for an upcoming wedding.)"

"Was planning a purchase from the latest catalog until I saw Gloria Steinem featured," said another post. "I thought I had somehow opened some magazine by accident. Not what I expected or wanted in a catalog."

“Very upset to learn that @LandsEnd is engaged in activist support for abortion,” Notre Dame Professor of Political Philosophy Patrick Deneen tweeted. “I hope #prolife generation will no longer shop w them."

The negative response wasn’t limited to individual customers offended by Lands’ End’s decision to promote the pro-abortion icon, as fallout also occurred among the merchant’s school-uniform business, which includes private, religious schools.

At least two Missouri schools, College of the Ozarks and Father Tolton Catholic High School, said on Wednesday that they would no longer purchase uniforms from Lands' End, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

College of the Ozarks also contains a K-12 school, School of the Ozarks, which has purchased its uniforms with Lands’ End from its beginning.

The Point Lookout, MO, ended the relationship, the school saying in a statement it “will no longer be a Lands’ End customer due to the clearly leftist, pro-abortion agenda.”

Vice President and Dean of Character Education Sue Head stated she had written an open letter to Marchionni, a report from Branson Tri-Lakes News said, and that she is “expressing the College’s disgust with the pro-abortion agenda touted in the recently released spring catalog.”

The letter said in part:

College of the Ozarks can no longer be a Lands’ End customer.

Your decision to feature a woman who is a well-known abortion activist as your Legend Series honoree, and to whom the company is giving a portion of proceeds for her organization, has resulted in our decision.

I find it ironic that your cover features young children and their families having an Easter egg hunt when Ms. Steinem stands for ending life in the womb. We will not be part of advancing your agenda or hers. At College of the Ozarks, we believe we are called to stand up against those who seek to destroy the Judeo-Christian values upon which our country was founded.

Steinem said last fall that Planned Parenthood was "the single-most-popular supported organization" in the United States because "it has helped so, so, so many people," and bashed controversy surrounding the abortion giant's trafficking in human remains.

"[The attack] is part of an ultra right-wing attempt to restore the basis of patriarchy or a male-dominant system and the necessity of a long-term racist system which is controlling reproduction," she stated, appearing on PBS's Tavis Smiley. "And to control reproduction, you have to control the bodies of women." 

"It gave me my life," she insisted, regarding her own abortion. "I mean, I wouldn't have been able to live my life otherwise."

Earlier this month, Steinem implied that young women who support Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton do so because they want to meet boys. HBO's Real Time host Bill Maher had asked Steinem, who endorsed rabid abortion proponent Clinton in 2008, why Clinton was trailing Sanders in the polls with young females.

"I don't mean to over-generalize," Steinem said, according to The Hill, "but men tend to get more conservative because they gain power as they age, and women get more radical because they lose power as they age."

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