by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
October 19, 2004
Waco, TX (LifeNews.com) — Planned Parenthood of Central Texas marked its 65th anniversary Thursday night at its Ross Avenue facility, co-hosted and promoted by the Waco Chamber of Commerce.
Pro-life protesters were on hand for the event, and were "more than a little surprised" to notice that Beth Vivio, executive director of the local Bluebonnet Girl Scout Council was in attendance.
Earlier this year, Vivio found herself in the center of a controversy regarding a decade-long sponsorship of Planned Parenthood events for youth by the local Girl Scout Council.
After a local pro-life group called for a boycott of Girl Scout cookie sales in the area, the controversy entered the national spotlight. Ultimately, the Girl Scout council announced it had severed ties with the state and nation’s largest abortion business.
"While the stated policy of the Council was changed, the thinking and the allegiance of the director of the Bluebonnet Girl Scout Council apparently has not," said John Pisciotta of Pro-Life Waco.
In February, less than three weeks after Pisciotta 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 came almost a month earlier than expected, as Vivio had previously said 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," read 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 Baylor 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 WacoCouncil, 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."
CEO Kathy Cloninger stated that Girl Scouts partner with many groups, including Planned Parenthood, during an interview on NBC’s "Today" show in March.
The Planned Parenthood event sponsorship 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.