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American Girl bracelet sales benefiting pro-choice group

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The popular American Girl doll and book series has entertained millions of young girls through the years, but could one of its products actually be benefiting an organization supportive of abortion rights and homosexual causes?

The budding controversy surrounds sales of the American Girl “I Can” bracelet, which was launched in September as a way of encouraging girls to “follow their dreams.” But for each $1 bracelet sold, 70 cents benefits Girls Inc., an organization which is innocent on the surface but whose advocacy statement supports abortion rights, contraceptive access and assistance for girls exploring their “sexual orientation.”

In addition to the proceeds netted from bracelet sales, American Girl Inc. — a subsidiary of Mattel — has pledged to donate $50,000 to Girls Inc.

The “I Can” bracelet features the famous American Girl red-colored star and also can be used as a ponytail holder, zipper pull and backpack charm, according to an American Girl press release.

Girls Inc. is a “nonprofit youth organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold,” its website says. The “I Can” bracelets can be purchased online as well as at all Bath & Body Works stores and at the American Girl Place stores in Chicago and New York.

“Parents need to know that this effort to promote self-esteem among girls is not as innocent as it seems,” Ann Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, said in a statement. “While Girls Inc. has some good programs, they also support abortion, oppose abstinence-only education for girls, and condone lesbianism.”

The conservative American Family Association also has criticized the partnership.

A request seeking comment from American Girl Inc. was not returned.

The “I Can” bracelet comes with an “I Can promise,” which states, “I can be myself, follow my dreams, and always do my best. I can reach for the stars, lend a hand to others, and be a good friend. I can make a difference! I promise to try.”

Girls Inc.’s website includes a “Bill of Rights” which states girls have the right “to accept and appreciate their bodies.” According to Girls Inc., that right also includes abortion.

“We recognize the right of all women to choose whether, when, and under what circumstances to bear children,” an advocacy statement on the Girls Inc. website states. “Reproductive freedom and responsibility are essential to other rights and opportunities, including pursuit of education, employment, financial security and a stable and fulfilling family life. Restrictions of reproductive choice are especially burdensome for young women and poor women. Girls Incorporated supports a woman’s freedom of choice, a constitutional right established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe vs. Wade.”

The Girls Inc. advocacy statement, adopted in 2000, also vows to fight “homophobia.”

“We recognize that any sizable group of girls includes those who face issues related to their sexual orientation or that of a family member and who face discrimination based on this sexual orientation,” the statement reads. “Girls have a right to positive, supportive environments and linkages to community resources for dealing with issues of sexual orientation.”

The statement says that abstinence should be the “first choice” but that girls should have “convenient access to safe, effective methods of contraception.”

To Scheidler, however, “Parents associate American Girl dolls with wholesome American family values, yet Girls Inc. contradicts parents’ most basic moral beliefs.”

The partnership between American Girl and Girls Inc. was announced in August and launched Sept. 19.

“At American Girl, we want every girl to recognize that she is talented, unique, and full of amazing possibilities,” Ellen L. Brothers, president of American Girl Inc., said in a release “Through ‘I Can’, we hope girls will see that when they like themselves for who they are, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. And, because the program will benefit Girls Inc., we can reinforce that helping others achieve is also an important part of life.”

Said Joyce Roche, president and CEO of Girls Inc.: “We’re excited about the opportunity to align ourselves with American Girl. Our Girls Inc. Girls’ Bill of Rights states that girls ‘have the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm,’ and the ‘I Can’ program complements this right by encouraging girls to dream big, achieve their goals, and make a difference in the world.”

Conservative groups are urging concerned parents to contact Brothers, the American Girl president, by calling 1-800-845-0005, e-mailing [email protected] or writing to Ellen L. Brothers, president, American Girl, 8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wis., 53562

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  • Michael Foust