Many of you are familiar with the women's fitness chain called Curves. It's hugely, internationally popular for a number of good reasons. It's women-only, which (like it or not) really does make it easier for out-of-shape women to feel comfortable getting back in touch with movement and exercise. It's an incredibly simple workout to follow, consisting of a circuit you work through in less than 30 minutes. Go through a brief post-workout stretching routine, and you're out the door. There are no locker rooms, no waiting at machines and the positive effects the program has had on many women is undeniable.
But there is the small matter of where the profits from the business are going. A while back, it was revealed that the CEO, Gary Heavin, supported anti-choice causes. There's been a lot of disagreement about how people should respond to that. Curves insists that Heavin's contributions are his own business. Maybe so, but I know that my Curves franchise sends Heavin hundreds of dollars a month, and that some portion of that money is going to causes I abhor. I've heard people out there equating boycotts with censorship, but I personally can't see the connection. Trying to pass legislation to prevent someone from giving to a cause of his choice constitutes an infringement on his freedoms. Canceling my gym membership because I think his position sucks constitutes voting with my feet.
So, upon doing a little online research, I found the Waco Tribune-Herald editorial which I'll paste below. Lots of people have seen the press release in which Heavin denies funding any "radical" groups (I can only find it as a pdf, but if I can find a direct link, I'll put it up). But not so many people have had a chance to see the kind of rhetoric this guy favors. It seems that the man is also a homophobe, and is in the habit of actively bullying pro-choice groups.
While I hate the idea of withdrawing my support from women's small businesses, I'm appalled by the fact that they provided what seemed like a haven for so many women who would not get exercise elsewhere and are now using this "safe place" to promote their fundamentalist agenda with their "Diane" magazine (filled with advice about giving your life over to Jesus-- which doesn't seem to have a website, or I would link to it) and to fund their war against reproductive freedoms.
I can't help suspecting that the Heavins are relishing the irony here. Read on.
"No place for our daughter"
February 28, 2004 Editorial by Gary Heavin, Waco Tribune-Herald
In Carlos Sanchez's Feb. 15 column ("Abortion foes shouldn't victimize scouts in their fight") we witnessed the tactics of abortion proponents.
First, they presume that the abortion debate has been settled, in their favor. Then they attempt to marginalize those who oppose their views as being on the fringe.
Don't make the assumption that the citizens of Waco are settled on this issue. Fully half of our citizens believe abortion as a form of birth control is abhorrent. The debate on protecting the life of unborn children is far from over.
Also, don't attempt to marginalize those of us who value the life of unborn children even though you may value the convenience of discarding this life.
Abortion is not healthy and should not be a form of birth control in a country that protects its innocent, but the real issue surrounding the Girl Scout cookie boycott is about more.
Bluebonnet Council leader Beth Vivio chose to lend the credibility of the Girl Scouts to a project that at the very least is highly controversial. She placed innocent 10-year-olds in the middle of a fiercely contested culture war.
If you haven't read the material that the Girl Scouts allowed their name to promote, take the time to see it. I have a 10-year-old daughter. I would absolutely not allow her to be exposed to this material. I don't want her being taught masturbation and told that homosexuality is normal.
Additionally, those who support Planned Parenthood are supporting its agenda of abortion on demand and the subsidy of other people's abortions with our tax dollars, materials that allege "safe sex" and promote homosexually and, oh yeah, some health care that our tax dollars pro-vide at a tune of over $250,000,000 annually.
According to its annual tax return for 2001, Planned Parenthood of Central Texas earned over $70,000 in the business of discarding unborn children that year. Subsequent years have probably been just as profitable.
My wife and I founded the Women's Health Collaborative Project with a five-year, $5 million grant to assist women with health care here in Waco. The Family Practice Center, Care Net Pregnancy Center and the McLennan County Collective Abstinence Project are wonderful organizations that provide a variety of services to women in need, including free or nominal-cost health care. Women can receive the care they need without compromising their values at an abortion mill.
Even with their decision to no longer link their name with Nobody's Fool, as long as Beth Vivio and her assistants lead the Girl Scouts in this area, my daughter will never join this otherwise worthy organization. I will not place her under the authority of people who exercised such poor judgment as to honor the matron of an abortion mill as their "Woman of Distinction."
Thoughtful people in Waco know that this is not about Girl Scouts and their cookies. It's about holding leaders responsible for their decisions.
Gary Heavin of Waco is founder and CEO of Curves International.