News & Politics

What's Wrong with Curves?

The SF Chronicle has retracted this story.
Editor's Note: We recently ran a column by Ruth Rosen of the San Francisco Chronicle, stating that Gary Heavin, founder and CEO of Curves, gives money to militant anti-abortion groups. The Chronicle has retracted Rosen's column and issued the following correction.

Two recent columns contained errors involving contributions made by Gary Heavin, founder and CEO of Curves, the women's fitness chain. Ruth Rosen's April 29 opinion-page column stated that Heavin "has given at least $5 million of his profits to some of the most militant anti-abortion groups in the country." That characterization is not accurate. The column specified that the money went to "three Texas organizations to fund 'pregnancy crisis centers.' " Only one of the recipients, Care Net, operates pregnancy crisis centers that are designed to dissuade pregnant women from having abortions while offering other support services to encourage adoption. Heavin has pledged to give Care Net $1 million over the next five years, according to a Curves spokeswoman. The largest of the pledges -- $3.75 million over five years -- goes to the Family Practice Center of McLennan County, which provides a variety of health-care services to Central Texas residents, many of whom are uninsured, according to the Curves spokeswoman. The Catholic-run center does not provide abortions but is not actively involved in the anti-abortion movement, the center's CEO said.

The other recipient of Heavin's pledge, $250,000 over five years, was the McLennan County Collaborative Abstinence Project, which promotes sexual abstinence among teens. Its director said that, as a matter of policy, its staff would not discuss abortion when making presentations. The column presented the contributions as a percentage of the company's annual gross revenues. But the Curves spokeswoman said that those pledges, as well as millions of dollars in donations to a wide range of charities, came from Heavin's personal wealth. The column also referred to Heavin's comments in a "recent Christianity Today" article that he "is proud to support these organizations." In fact, the interview was published in the January-February issue of Today's Christian, a magazine affiliated with Christianity Today. In it, Heavin expressed his anti- abortion views but did not talk about his support for any specific organization.

In addition, Jon Carroll, in his April 20 Datebook column, erred in referring to Heavin's comments as appearing in "Christianity Today" and by stating that Heavin "donates 10 percent of Curves profits" to "anti-choice groups." He also wrote that Heavin's recipients were allied with Operation Save America, a radical anti-abortion group. As stated in a May 4 clarification on Rosen's column, Operation Save America has praised those recipients on its Web site but does not provide financial support, nor does it have a formal alliance with them. The Chronicle regrets the errors.

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