The anti-choice movement’s expanding suspicion that the entire world is out to get it has grown to a point where anti-choicers are warning parents to avoid the Girl Scouts. While most of us think of the Girl Scouts as a wholesome organization devoted to building up girls’ skills and self-esteem, the anti-choice movement has taken to insinuating that your daughter is going to get a badge in “abortion orgies” if she joins up. (In all honesty, the “building up girls’ skills and self-esteem” is likely what’s really bothering the right in these days of panicking about women and girls excelling in school in record numbers. But as with religious fundamentalists around the world, fear of sex is grafted onto every excuse to attack the rights of women and girls to education and employment.)
Now there’s a new website to help conservative parents seeking to know more about how local chapters are connected to pro-choice organizations called My Girl Scout Council.
The mainstream anti-choice movement knows that it can’t reveal its true agenda—trying to reverse women’s march towards equality by using forced childbirth and sexual shame as weapons—too boldly, so the official line on why their followers are supposed to hate the Girl Scouts is the disingenuous claim that abortion is “murder.” Are the Girl Scouts aborting any pregnancies? No. Giving money to terminate pregnancies? No. Taking a stand on the issue of legal abortion? Nope. But, as usual with anti-choicers, there’s no stretch too far. Take LifeSiteNews’ coverage of this new website. The coverage opens with, “The pro-life movement has been concerned for a number of years about the ties between the Girl Scouts and the Planned Parenthood abortion business.”
There are three solid attempts to deceive in that sentence (for people who claim to have the moral high ground, anti-choicers sure do lie a lot!). One, the “ties” between Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts are mostly a figment of paranoid right-wing imagination, and include trying to hold the entire Girl Scout organization responsible because one group had a meeting in a room that had previously been used by an HIV prevention group that had accidentally left a pamphlet behind. (Yes, they’re that desperate.) Individual troops may reach out to Planned Parenthood, but the larger organization doesn’t have these “ties.” Two, the claim that Planned Parenthood is an “abortion business,” as if abortion is the bulk of their work, when it only constitutes 3 percent of their services. And three, the claim that Planned Parenthood is a “business,” when it is a nonprofit.
Despite the attempts to deceive right up top, the quote from Ann Saladin, the woman who started My Girl Scout Council, makes it clear that this isn’t about “life,” but about a fear of female sexuality—which is in and of itself a cover story for fearing female independence.
“I wish a resource like this had been available when I was first contemplating my own daughter’s Girl Scout membership,” Saladin explained to LifeSiteNews. “I had no idea that her membership, and the financial contributions solicited through her council, were supporting the international scouting organization, WAGGGS, which aggressively pushes for sexual and reproductive health and rights for girls around the world while representing its 10 million members.”
They fight for the health and rights of the girls they claim to represent. How horrible. Well, if you don’t think girls deserve health and rights it is.
Going to the website itself confirms that Saladin’s main concern isn’t some kind of misplaced fear that embryos are the same thing as children, but that girls who join the Girl Scouts might inadvertently pick up the belief that they are whole human beings who own their own bodies and deserve full human rights. While the site purports to have information about each individual troop, every individual troop link goes to the same document, with the only modification being that Saladin copy and pasted the troop’s name into the headline and first paragraph.
Even if you oppose legal abortion, the attempts to prove that the Girl Scouts has a secret pro-choice agenda are laughably inept—mostly attempts to create guilt by association, including claiming that Girl Scouts should never link an article about any topic if it’s been published in any publication that has published abortion-supportive articles. It’s clear that “abortion” is just a scare word sprinkled throughout to drive up fears that Girl Scouts might have a viewpoint that comes anywhere close to the belief that women might have a greater role on earth than being helpmeets for husbands.
Saladin is concerned that Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) is part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), and because some of the groups around the world are more aggressively progressive than GSUSA, there’s supposedly guilt by association. GSUSA also has associations with organizations and individuals who believe women are full human beings and may even call themselves feminists. Shocking, I know. Why would an organization that’s supposed to be “for girls” actually produce programs promoting the well-being of girls?
Saladin is extremely irritated, for instance, that GSUSA participates in World Thinking Day, a day set aside by WAGGGS in order to promote the education of girls around the world. Saladin, at least, knows better than to just complain about the promotion of girls’ education, so instead she tries to create a chain of guilt by association that is pretty hard to follow: WAGGGS has done work with groups that promote the rights of youth around the world. Those rights include the right to sexual health care, including safe abortion access, and comprehensive sex education. Therefore, by participating in an event promoting education by a group that has worked with other groups that promote sexual health, GSUSA has “sexual health” cooties. Voila! You can’t support girls’ education without sex and abortion. Yes, it’s exhausting. I suspect it’s meant to be: The hope is by piling on a bunch of nonsensical guilt-by-association sex panic arguments, the reader won’t notice that Saladin’s trying to drum up outrage that scouts are being taught to respect the importance of getting an education.
The same strategy is used throughout the document: Thin guilt-by-association sex panic arguments that are confusing and whose only purpose seems to be overwhelming the reader into not realizing that the Girl Scouts is really “guilty” of promoting girls’ education, women’s history, and the idea that women have things to contribute besides just being wives and mothers. It seems by attempting to delude readers into thinking that the Girl Scouts has a “secret” agenda, Saladin has accidentally revealed that it’s the anti-choice movement who, in reality, has a poorly kept secret: That they are more opposed to women’s rights than they are supportive of fetal life.