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Conservatives who oppose a youth organization that supports abortion rights and acceptance of lesbians said Friday that Harriet Miers's service with the Dallas chapter in 1987 had no bearing on her Supreme Court nomination. Miers chaired the advisory committee of Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization dating to 1864 that serves about 800,000 girls a year, many from low-income families, according to the questionnaire she submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Miers received an award for her work with the local chapter and the Dallas Bar Association.
The notoriously antigay American Family Association of Mississippi recently launched a campaign indirectly targeting Girls Inc., which it called a "pro-abortion, pro-lesbian advocacy group." Girls Inc., on its Web site, has defended its mission and dismissed the "false, inflammatory statements from people who are pursuing a narrow political agenda."
Questioned about Miers's past involvement with the group, Tim Wildmon, president of the AFA, said it was not an issue. "That's been so long ago," Wildmon said in a telephone interview. "I don't think that factors in with her current situation. It was 18 years ago; people change, organizations change." The American Family Association has neither endorsed nor opposed Miers's nomination. "We're still in a wait-and-see mode," Wildmon said in anticipation of confirmation hearings next month. "We're trying to do more homework on Ms. Miers."
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Miers's participation with Girls Inc. was "based on the group's encouragement of young girls and women in their educational pursuits."
The American Family Association is urging its 2.2 million members to demand that American Girl, maker of popular dolls and children's books, stop its support for Girls Inc. Proceeds from the sale of American Girl wristbands are helping support educational and empowerment programs of Girls Inc. The AFA and the Pro-Life Action League, a Chicago-based antiabortion group, are urging their supporters to contact American Girl and express opposition to its contributions to Girls Inc.
In the advocacy section on its Web page, Girls Inc. voices it support for Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, favors a girl's right to have access to contraceptives, and pledges support for girls dealing with questions about sexual orientation. American Girl said in a recent statement that its altruistic efforts have been misconstrued. (AP)