Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Girl Scouts Part 1: WAGGGS and Abortion

I know I'm opening up a hot topic here.  But I feel the need to share with my friends the issues that are coming up in our lives and what is being done about it.  All I ask is that if you are going to comment that you are respectful to my feelings and beliefs. This is, after all, my blog.  I can delete any comments that I want to.  Or even just disable them all together.  So be nice.

A couple of years ago Olivia was invited to join a local Girl Scout troop with a friend.  Because I had heard that the GSUSA supported Planned Parenthood, I did a little reading on their website and found that they claimed neutrality on issues such as abortion and did not have a relationship with Planned Parenthood or any other similar agency.  I accepted their comments, and let Olivia join.

It's now been two years.  A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a list of organizations (identified by a pro-life group) that were supporting abortion rights.  Girl Scouts was on that list.  So I debated the point with them, since I knew what the Girl Scouts had to say on the matter.

Unfortunately, we were both right.

The GSUSA is a member of the WAGGGS, the World Assocation of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.  As a member of WAGGGS, it pays a "quota" every year to the organization based on the number of girls that are members, and makes up almost half of their membership.  I will explore this relationship in more detail in another blog post later this week. 

I began corresponding with the local Girl Scout Council a little over a week ago.  We are having an open meeting with them next Monday to discuss our concerns, and I will keep you updated on the outcome of that meeting.

The purpose of this post, however, is to demonstrate the concerns that I now have with WAGGGS and what they are doing in the world arena of "social justice".  Here is a large portion of a letter that I just sent to Shannon Evers, the Executive Director of our local Council.  I deleted sections that were in response to other areas of our discussion that are not directly relevant to this material.


Ms. Evers,

Thank you for your response to my email.

I understand that officially WAGGGS takes no position on abortion or birth control.  However, it is what they are doing (and recently) that concerns me. I can SAY many things, but it’s what I DO that really counts.  I hold WAGGGS to the same standard. 

So what are my concerns?  I will be specific:

1)     Despite the Girl Scouts’ neutral stance on a woman’s right to an abortion, I came across information tonight that I consider to be evidence that WAGGGS is actively involved in demanding abortion rights throughout the world, as well as getting involved the issue of gay marriage.  I know that none of our membership dues is used for WAGGGS.  But I also know that the National GSUSA has to pay an annual “quota” to WAGGGS based on our membership.  I know that my daughter has been wearing a WAGGGS pin as part of her uniform.  I know that the WAGGGS flag was flown immediately next to the United States flag during the awards ceremony this past weekend.  So a logical conclusion is that membership in the Girl Scouts means - at the very least – supporting and promoting WAGGGS.

2)     The most recent article I sent you claimed that WAGGGS was involved in the drafting of the Bali Global Youth Forum Declaration.  Here is the evidence I found on the WAGGGS website and the ICPD Website that verifies this claim: 
a.     The WAGGGS website and found a series of blog entries from the delegates that attended this event:http://www.wagggsworld.org/en/globalyouthforum/blog

b.    The ICPD website lists the organizations that were part of the Steering Committee for this event; essentially, this is the committee that generated the Declaration. It states:

The International Steering Committee is the decision making body for the ICPD Global Youth Forum and is co-chaired by two youth advocates. The International Steering Committee has representatives from: the Government of Indonesia, USAIDthe UN Foundation, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Globo Media, the Youth CoalitionInternational Center for Research on WomenYouth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER), CHOICE, Alianza de Juventudes Rumbo a Cairo + 20, Rio Twenties, RESURJ, Restless Development, ARROW, IPPF, AfriYan, CIVICUS, WYWCA, Taking IT Global, World Assembly of Youth (WAY), Africa Young Positives Network, GNP+, Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association, Astra Youth and the World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides

(Note: the organizations I highlighted in RED are generally accepted as being involved in funding or advocating abortion rights.  In most cases, I was able to get to pro-abortion statements within 2 clicks from their home page.)

c.     I printed out the full text (20 pages) of the Bali Global Youth Forum Declaration, and there were NUMEROUS statements made which I found greatly concerning.  Following are a few of those.  I have added bold text to bring attention to phrases that are particularly disturbing, and you will see that this encompass much more than the “abortion issue”.  It should be noted that the sections addressing these sexual and moral issues take up at least half of this document, indicating that it was a major objective of the Forum.

“As part of this basic package governments must provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services that include safe and legal abortion…”

““Cultural and religious barriers, such as parental and spousal consent, and early and forced marriages, should never prevent access to family planning, safe and legal abortion, and other reproductive health services – recognizing that young people have autonomy of their own bodies, pleasures, and desires.”

“Governments must ensure that international and national laws, regulations, and policies remove obstacles and barriers – including requirements for parental and spousal notification and consent and age of consent for sexual and reproductive services – that infringe of the sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents and youth.”

“”Governments must repeal laws and regulations that permit violence and/or discrimination against young people…including laws that limit same-sex marriage and criminalize YPLHIV (young people living with HIV) and LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, intersex)”

“Governments should decriminalize abortion, and create and implement policies and programs that ensure young women have access to safe and legal abortion, pre- and post- abortion services, without mandatory waiting periods, requirements for parental and spousal notification, and/or consent or age of consent.”

“Comprehensive sexuality education should be developed in partnership with young people and include information on sexual orientation and gender identities that is free of religious intolerance.”

“The concept of the family is constantly evolving and governments must recognize this by adapting legal, policy, and programmatic frameworks that embrace every form of family and ensure the right of everyone to form a family, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

I have to admit that the information I have uncovered tonight – particularly this Bali Global Youth Forum declaration – has convinced me that WAGGGS is pushing a very liberal agenda.  It’s not just advocating abortion, but it’s advocating a “no-questions-asked-no-consent-needed” abortion, even from a spouse.  It’s not just advocating a person’s right live an alternative sexual lifestyle, but demanding that they be given equal rights and acknowledgement in terms of marital and family (adoption???) rights. 

Because of this and the relationship the GSUSA has with WAGGGS, I am concerned about my daughters' participation in this organization.  The Girl Scout Promise does say “to serve God and my country”, yet both of these issues go against the religious beliefs of most of the world’s religions.  There is no tolerance for either in the Islamic faith, and at best, it’s a very controversial issue in the Jewish, Christian, and Hindu faith.
I am also concerned because the Girl Scout Law states that we should be “honest and fair”, yet there is no transparency concerning the role that WAGGGS plays in the world’s arena of abortion and homosexual “rights”.  I understand that there is more to WAGGGS than those two issues, but I cannot stand with an organization that holds those views.  There are many other groups that I can support that are fighting for women’s economic and educational rights, decreasing violence against women, and proper access to healthcare.  It is my feeling that WAGGGS is not upfront and “honest” about their involvement in these issues because they know that many parents, such as myself, would object to them.

Anita Ervin


*Jess* said...

I have the same concerns, opposite side of the debate, though, about the Boy Scouts. With my family, I am honest with Jayce about why I don't think the Boy Scouts is an organization that our family can support so he knows why I do not let him join. I think I think your girls will understand your view as well if you explain it.

Melisa said...

Thank you, Anita! I have not been able to support the GSA for the last several years since I had heard about this connection. I just cannot support an organization that has serious ties to another organization that supports killing people.