An effort by Pro-Life Wisconsin to get anti-abortion supporters to boycott Girl Scout cookies is part of a national campaign by anti-abortion groups called "Cookiecott 2014."
In an email to supporters Monday, Pro-Life Wisconsin said that "while some local troops' activities may be wholesome, sadly, Girl Scouts USA promotes radically anti-life women, such as Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, as role models, regularly partners with pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood for 'educational' activities, and encourages girls to fight for abortion on demand."
The annual six-week period of Girl Scout cookie sales kicks off this Saturday.
The website cookiecott.com says the effort is being undertaken because of the Girl Scout organization's "deep and lasting entanglement with abortion providers and abortion rights organizations," as well as the organization's "praise for (Texas legislator) Wendy Davis and (U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary) Kathleen Sebelius."
The latter apparently refers to a Girl Scouts of the USA tweet that linked to a recent panel discussion on the website HuffPo Live of influential women of 2013. Davis was among the women mentioned. Sebelius was mentioned as an influential woman in another discussion linked to by the Girl Scouts organization. Both women favor abortion rights.
The Girl Scouts organization later clarified it was not endorsing any particular woman or cause, just applauding the work of many accomplished women.
Tuesday, national Girl Scouts spokeswoman Kelly Parisi told the Associated Press the posts were meant to encourage people to get involved in discussions about the top newsmakers of 2013, which many people were referring to as the year of women.
"We think it is appropriate for us to encourage conversation about what makes a female leader," Parisi said.
A statement on the Girl Scouts website says the organization "does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood." Christy Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Badgerland Council, a regional body that provides Girl Scouting in south-central and southwest Wisconsin, said the council "has no programming related to Planned Parenthood."
Sam Guzman, communications director for Pro-Life Wisconsin, said he was not aware of any Wisconsin Girl Scout troops collaborating with Planned Parenthood, but he directed a reporter to honestgirlscouts.com, a site where Girl Scouts and troop leaders from across the country can post alleged examples of such.
No examples are given for Wisconsin. In other states, individual Girl Scout troops are criticized for such things as exposing members to Planned Parenthood's sex-education curriculum.
The national Girl Scouts organization said in a statement it "does not advocate one way or another with regard to what we perceive as private issues best handled by families. Personal matters are just that — personal and private — and should be addressed accordingly."
In its Monday message, Pro-Life Wisconsin told its supporters that "approximately 15 percent of each box sold goes to the troop. The rest goes to the regional and national organizations of Girl Scouts USA."
That's not true, Gibbs said. No portion of cookie proceeds goes to the national Girl Scouts organization, she said.
Of the $3.75 per-box retail price, the baker gets 99 cents, the girl who sold the box earns a 12-cent reward, and the troop keeps 60 cents to 70 cents depending on total sales volume. The rest — about $2 — goes to the regional council to pay for programming costs, Gibbs said.
While the organization's 112 regional councils do provide funding for the national Girl Scouts of the USA, that money comes from a portion of registration fees, Gibbs said. The cookie money is a distinct pot, she said.
Told of this, Peggy Hamill, Pro-Life Wisconsin's state director, said "our concerns still stand."
"Money is fungible," she said. "Regardless of whether it's actually the cookie money supporting the national Girl Scouts, we know that money goes from the regional councils to the national organization."
Guzman said other pro-life groups have reported that the national Girl Scouts organization still benefits from cookie sales because it receives licensing fees for all of the boxes sold. He did not know the details, and Gibbs said she could not speak to the issue.
Pro-Life Wisconsin does not have dues-paying members but maintains a mailing list of 28,000 contacts, Guzman said. Monday's item about the Girl Scout cookies was sent to about 3,600 people who have asked for weekly email updates from the organization, he said.