Indiana lawmaker regrets letter, continues criticism of Girl Scouts

Story highlights

  • Indiana state Rep. Bob Morris had written the Girl Scouts "sexualizes" young girls
  • Later, he said he regretted writing that letter -- while still criticizing the Girl Scouts
  • He reiterates that he still feels the group is a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood
  • The Girl Scouts says on its website it has no relationship with Planned Parenthood
An Indiana legislator has voiced regret for writing a letter stating the Girl Scouts of America "sexualizes" young girls, even as he stood by his criticisms of what he called a "radicalized organization."
In a statement distributed Thursday to media in Indiana, state Rep. Bob Morris said he "should not have painted the entire Girl Scouts organization with such a wide brush" in his previous letter.
"I realize now that my words were emotional, reactionary and inflammatory," he wrote, apologizing to Girl Scout members and leaders in Indiana who promote "leadership, community involvement and family values." "In hindsight, I should never have written the letter."
Updating an earlier statement, the national organization responded Friday to Morris by saying, "We agree that the letter was a mistake and that it's time to move on. On behalf of the millions of girls in Girl Scouting: apology accepted."
At the same time, the Republican lawmaker didn't back down from his criticism and said that he still opposes the nonbinding resolution celebrating the group's 100th anniversary.
Elaborating Friday on what he'd have done differently in retrospect, Morris told CNN Fort Wayne affiliate WANE, "I probably would have called each of my colleagues, one-by-one, to express what I found in the research that I did on the Girl Scouts of America."
Instead, Morris wrote a letter last Saturday to fellow members of the Republican caucus warning lawmakers not "to endorse a group that has been subverted in the name of liberal progressive politics and the destruction of traditional American family values."
He claimed the proposed resolution -- that all House members, except him, ultimately signed -- would "extend legitimacy to a radicalized organization." Furthermore, Morris added many parents were "abandoning the Girl Scouts because they promote homosexual lifestyles."
In his more recent letter, and his interview with WANE, Morris did not back down from any of the specific claims that he'd made. In fact, he pointed to a 2004 interview in which, he asserted, the group's CEO told NBC's "Today" show that the Girl Scouts partners with Planned Parenthood for sex education.
In his Friday interview, Morris said that "for sure" he still considers the Girl Scouts a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood, as he'd written in his original letter. He also said that the Girl Scouts "really don't have a stance on anything and they really avoid the question."
Yet on its website, the Girl Scout of the USA states that it "does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood."
In a statement issued after Morris' original letter, the Girl Scouts said, "If the freshman representative wishes to discredit the contributions that hundreds of thousands of Indiana women and girls have made through the Girl Scouts program over the last 100 years, then he's entitled to his opinion.
"Not only is Rep. Morris off the mark on his claims, it's also unfortunate in his limited research that he failed to discover that since 1917, every first lady has served as the honorary leader of Girl Scouts, including Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush."
Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said she was disappointed in Morris' words, calling them "inflammatory, misleading, woefully inaccurate and harmful."
The controversy is the latest involving Planned Parenthood and its affiliates.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation briefly cut funding for some Planned Parenthood projects, saying it decided it would no longer fund groups under federal investigation. Congress in September began investigating whether Planned Parenthood illegally used federal funds to provide abortions.
After Komen's initial decision, Planned Parenthood said money from the foundation has largely paid for breast exams at local centers. In the past five years, it said, grants from Komen have directly supported 170,000 screenings, making up about 4% of the exams performed at Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide.