“NO” on the Commission to Study National Women’s History Museum
Today, the House is scheduled to vote on the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Women’s History Museum Act of 2013 (H.R. 863). While the idea of honoring the great female leaders of American History is noble and shared by all, the museum itself has been a source of controversy since its founding in 1996 and the current bill is opposed by Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List and Concerned Women for America (CWA).
Writing on behalf of its 365,000 pro-life members across the country, SBA List urged Congress to oppose H.R. 863 “until it includes guarantees that it can accurately tell the history of public figures like suffragists and Margaret Sanger.” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser continued:
The suffragists saw their defense of unborn children as intrinsically linked to their fight for women’s rights. They knew that authentic women’s rights could not be built on the broken backs of innocent unborn children. Yet nowhere are these strong pro-life convictions and advocacy mentioned on the National Women’s History Museum web pages.
Meanwhile, Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business, enjoys a glowing review. Sanger was an ardent promoter of negative eugenics and forcible sterilization, who worked to segregate the targeted populations — the “feeble-minded,” the poor, and other “unfit” classes of people — and prevent them from procreating. She referred to members of these disfavored groups as “human weeds.”
CWA President and CEO Penny Nance expresses similar concerns, writing the proposed museum “will glorify abortion.” Writing on behalf of their 500,000 members nationwide, CWA expressed concern “the content of such a museum would be slanted to represent the feminist ideology and would not provide an accurate portrayal of American women.” The letter to Congress, which was signed by SBA List, Eagle Forum, and the Family Research Council, concluded:
[W]e ask you to oppose H.R. 863 in its current form. Unless the diversity of opinion among American women about our own history is affirmatively addressed and safeguarded by Congress, we urge you to oppose what will without doubt become a shrine to liberal ideology, abortion, and liberal advocates. Women must not be used as an excuse to promote a system of beliefs that ultimately exploits and harms us. Not on our watch.
Nance also expressed concern the “NWHM board is overwhelmingly filled with people who are pro-abortion and leftist in their ideology.” The Heritage Foundation’s Genevieve Wood echoed that assessment, noting a “review of the roster of the museum’s board members, ambassadors, advisory council and honorary board makes it clear this museum will lean left, not right.”
Indeed, the NWHM website, its biographical descriptions, and the selections therein of which American women to commemorate, all demonstrate a clear bias and an attempt to exclude the positive contributions of many conservative women.
It’s also worth noting that despite claims the museum will be self-financing, it has raised just $14 million over the past 16 years. The museum’s president indicated construction costs could reach half a billion dollars. In that sense, it is modeling itself after the Smithsonian Institution, which receives roughly 65-percent of its funding from the federal government.
Heritage Action opposes H.R. 863 and will include it as a vote on our legislative scorecard.
Heritage Action Scorecard
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