The National Women’s History Museum Act of 2009 sailed through the House of Representatives, but ran into a stone wall in the Senate, a stone wall named Senators Jim DeMint (R, SC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). The two Senators put another one of those mysterious “holds” on the legislation, “preventing it from passing with unanimous consent and implying a potential filibuster,” as reported by change.org writer Roxann MtJoy. Their rationale? “Taxpayers might be asked to subsidize the museum in the future,” and a fear that “the museum would focus on abortion rights without ‘featuring any of the many contributions of the pro-life movement in America.'”
The museum was recently the recipient of money raised at a gala held by Meryl Streep, but the hold has halted construction. The museum was planned to feature the original, signed 19th Amendment as well as thousands of artifacts important in the history of the women’s movement in America. The museum CEO, Joan Wages, has said that they have never even discussed any exhibit on abortion rights, contrary to an accusation by an organization called Concerned Women for America, which wrote a letter to Senator DeMint specifically accusing the Museum of planning an emphasis on abortion rights, and requesting a hold on the bill. Said Wages, “We are not going to do an exhibit on that issue because we have to raise $400 million. We cannot afford, literally, to focus on issues that are divisive.”
The misogynist Republican Taliban strikes again: the meddlesome Senators appear to dislike the very idea of a women’s museum where women could learn about their history and their rights. The Senators both also voted against “an amendment that would deny defense contracts to contractors who deny their employees legal action following a sexual assault,” and they both believe a “woman should be forced to give birth to her rapist’s baby.” Senator Coburn has also stated that abortionists should receive the death penalty. This is the face of the Republican Party today: primitive, patriarchal, and punitive. If Republicans return to power, this bullying arrogance will become the norm. Please call your Senators and request they vote to pass the National Women’s History Museum Act.