The new gluten-free shortbread cookies should have been the most controversial part of the 2014 Girl Scout cookie campaign.
Instead, pro-life groups across the country have banded together to launch CookieCott 2014, a boycott of Thin Mints, Tagalongs and other tasty pastries because the Girl Scout’s national leadership “continues to show its attachment to pro-abortion leaders and organizations.”
What began as a local effort through Pro-Life Waco has rallied anti-abortion groups across the country, including Pro-Life Wisconsin. But how exactly did the Girl Scouts, a group that actively states it “does not take a position” on birth control or abortion, manage to enrage pro-lifers?
It all apparently comes down to a tweet and a Facebook post. At the end of last year, the Girl Scouts’ official Twitter account tweeted a Huffington Post article on “Incredible Ladies of 2013.” In addition to featuring Beyonce and Malala Yousafzai, the list gave a nod to Wendy Davis. Then, on Dec. 30, the Girl Scouts posted on their Facebook page a link to a Washington Post article called “Seven Women Who Made a Difference in 2013,” which included Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius.
And that was all it took. The Girl Scouts made no formal endorsement of either Davis or Sebelius, let alone their politics. But sharing lists that feature those two women set off CookieCott 2014.
John Pisciotta, the director of Waco Pro-Life and an organizer of CookieCott 2014, believes that even posting a list that includes Davis as an “incredible lady” is anathema to the Girl Scouts’ official non-stance on abortion.
“You don't take a position one way or the other on abortion, but you're comfortable saying a politician for whom abortion is their claim to fame is in consideration for woman of the year?,” he says. “That's silly. Wendy Davis 2013 means filibuster to stop abortion restrictions.”
Pro-life groups have been after the Girl Scouts for years, misconstruing it as a pro-choice organization (along with a leftist, lesbian, and feminist one). Their strategy has been to jump on the Girl Scouts’ official non-stance on abortion and contraception and criticize it every time it associates or mentions a figure or organization remotely supportive of abortion or birth control.
“I think Girl Scouts should honor its statement that it takes no position on ‘abortion, birth control, and human sexuality,” said Ann Saladin, a former Girl Scout mother in St. Louis who works on the CookieCott. “Unfortunately, many of its actions simply don't match up with this promise, as is evidenced by the numerous examples of women and organizations which publically advocate for reproductive/abortion rights that are promoted to their members.”
After pulling her nine-year-old daughter out of the Girl Scouts, Saladin created MyGirlScoutsCouncil.com to showcase what she and other pro-lifers found offensive about the organization. Any politician honored by the Girl Scouts who has at some point supported contraception or abortion rights—be it Kristen Gillibrand or Nita Lowey—is considered an affront to the official no-stance stance.
Another point of contention is the Girl Scouts curriculum, a book series called Journeys. According to Pisciotta, in one of the books “the only person applauded who was pro-life was Mother Theresa.” For him, her presence was not enough to balance out “Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton [and] Betty Friedan.”
Meanwhile, what the pro-lifers fail to mention is that they have completely overlooked the group’s connections to the Republican Party and conservative politicians. The organization’s list of famous alumni includes Elizabeth Dole, Laura Bush, and Nancy Kassebaum, a Republican and the first woman elected to the Senate without her husband previously holding a Congressional seat.
The Girl Scouts also runs Troop Capitol Hill, a bipartisan organization of former and honorary Girl Scout politicians. It is currently chaired by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX), and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).
So, why do the people behind the CookieCott selectively ignore these aspects of the organization and make the Girl Scouts out to be covertly pro-choice? It may have less to do with the group’s so-called abortion politics and far more to do with its iconic status.
“It's deeply unfortunate that fringe groups are attaching their political agenda to our brand,” said Kelly Parisi, Chief Communications Executive at Girl Scouts USA. “I think it's because our brand is so popular that it's the only way toget their radical message out there.”
“It’s really upsetting that we're a girl-serving organization and people are using our brand to have very adult conversations,” said Parisi. “And that has no place in our organization and isn’t about building leadership skills for girls.”
Meanwhile, the people behind CookieCott 2014 insist they are protecting young women from the Girl Scouts’ allegedly pro-abortion ways. Said Pisciotta: “Just as we try to defend and protect little babies about to be annihilated in the womb, we want to protect these little girls.”