In their own small way, Girl Scout cookies are an American institution. From office tea breaks to care packages for deployed troops, and even a tasty snack around the house, they’ve always been seen as a way to treat yourself a little while supporting a good cause. However, in recent years there’s been a cloud on the horizon – according to regular social media posts, and even some media reporting, some of the money raised from cookie sales goes to support Planned Parenthood. That’s been predictably controversial; after all, Planned Parenthood’s work includes providing abortions, and many Americans have a strong moral objection to that. Is there a real problem here?
- These stories first appeared in 2012, following an article published on the pro-life website LifeSiteNews. This article was highly critical of the Girl Scouts in general, but especially strong on the topic of Planned Parenthood.
- According to the article, by Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Institute, 90% of the money raised by Girl Scout cookies sales is passed on from the troop to the councils that supervise troops across areas of several counties. Some of this is passed on again, to the Girl Scout National Council. Ruse implied – but didn’t actually say – that a share of that money was donated to Planned Parenthood.
- While the claim got some publicity after Ruse’s article, the fuss soon died down for a couple of years. Then, in 2015, Fox News reprinted the article. This time it got a lot of publicity, and also started circulating more widely on social media. Since then it’s taken on a life of its own, regularly popping up in inboxes and sparking outrage.
- However, Ruse seems to have been misinformed about a key point of the story. None of the proceeds from selling cookies are passed to the National Council, which does have a history of making controversial decisions. It’s all kept by local troops and regional councils, and used to fund Girl Scout activities.
- Kathy Cloninger, who was CEO of the Girl Scouts n 2012, told journalists that Planned Parenthood was one of the organizations the National Council worked with to give girls sex education. This is a move many parents don’t agree with, but there isn’t any financial support involved.
- Under Cloninger’s leadership there was some contact between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood, and there may still be. Some regional councils run programs together with the organization. But no money from the sale of Girl Scout cookies goes towards funding abortions or anything else Planned Parenthood does.