Girl Scout Group Severs Ties With Planned Parenthood After Boycott

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 24, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Girl Scout Group Severs Ties With Planned Parenthood After Boycott

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
February 24, 2004

Waco, TX (LifeNews.com) — The Bluebonnet Council of the Girl Scouts of America has issued a statement that it is severing ties with the local Planned Parenthood affiliate, and said it will no longer sponsor conferences run by the abortion business.

Less than three weeks after John Pisciotta of Pro-Life Waco called for a boycott of the annual Girl Scout cookie sale, the board of directors of the Waco area council voted to end their partnership with Planned Parenthood of Central Texas. The decision comes almost a month earlier than expected, as Council Director Beth Vivio said previously that the council would take up the issue at their meeting on March 25.

"Girl Scouts does not provide support to Planned Parenthood, nor do we have any national collaboration or relationship with that organization," reads a statement issued from the group’s board of directors. "We believe issues related to human sexuality and reproductive health are best left to families to discuss with their daughters.

"While the Girl Scouts – Bluebonnet Council has sponsored Planned Parenthood’s "Nobody’s Fool" teen and pre-teen education event in the past, we will not be doing so this year, nor will we be sponsoring similar entities such as the Waco 3R Coalition," the statement concludes.

Pisciotta, an economics professor at a local university, said the boycott alone did not provide the pressure to end the relationship.

"The pressure came when local, web, and national news outlets picked up the story," Pisciotta told LifeNews.com. "The result was a firestorm of protest about the local Girl Scout and Planned Parenthood entanglement."

Pisciotta said that in addition to a deluge of calls and emails to the Waco Council, which encompasses 6,000 girls in 14 counties, the national headquarters, and Girl Scout councils nationwide, several local troops demanded "town meetings" with Council leadership.

"The Girl Scout leadership found 90% opposition to their alliance with Planned Parenthood of Central Texas," said Pisciotta. "As one scout mom put it to Beth Vivio, ‘Your link to Planned Parenthood is forcing us to choose between our religious faith and
Girl Scouts.’ Faced with a crisis of public relations that was growing each day, the Council initiated the divorce."

Planned Parenthood officials were "shocked" by the decision.

"The children of Central Texas now have been given the clear message that the bullying tactics of a few are more successful than an informed democracy," Pam Smallwood, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Central Texas said in a statement.

Smallwood had been recognized by the Bluebonnet Council as a "Woman of Distinction."

"Smallwood is chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Central Texas. She has served on the boards of the Texas Women’s Health and Family Planning Association and the Texas Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. Smallwood is active in Rotary Club and the Lake Shore Baptist Church," reads the description of her achievements in an article on her receipt of the honor in Waco Today, a magazine produced by the Waco Tribune.

In a front-page article in Sunday’s Waco Tribune, Vivio said Smallwood received the honor "because of her work with her church and civic organizations, not for her job at Planned Parenthood."

"Ms. Vivo now insults our intelligence with her explanation for the honor bestowed," responded Pisciotta. "The civic club and church reference was in the final sentence — with no specific achievements offered."

The Planned Parenthood event sponsorship has caused several scout groups to disaffiliate from the Girl Scout organization. Troops as far away as Houston, which is outside of the Waco council, have disbanded over the relationship with Planned Parenthood.

Donna Coody, a former Girl Scout troop leader in Crawford, TX, split from the Girl Scout organization during the boycott and is starting her own girl’s organization. Although she is pleased with the statement from the local council, she told the Waco Tribune she won’t change her mind on her break from the Girl Scouts.