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Penny Young Nance is president of Concerned Women for America (CWA), described on the group’s website as “the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.” CWA has been around for 35 years, articulating conservative views on what are often called “women’s issues” as well on as other political issues. Nance has served as the CEO of Concerned Women for American since 2010. She was named the group’s president last year.
This is your 35th anniversary. What’s the genesis of your organization, and what have you done over those years? Concerned Women for America began in 1979 when our founder, Beverly LaHaye was sitting in her living room in Southern California. She was a pastor’s wife and had never been involved in public policy. One day she was watching Betty Friedan talk about what women want, talking about the ERA. Betty Friedan decided she wanted to speak on behalf of all women. She pretended that women were monolithic. And Mrs. LaHaye literally jumped off her sofa, stood up and said, “She doesn’t represent me. The things she’s asking for, I don’t support.” And that was, of course, abortion on demand and passage of the ERA. So she got busy and she met with some women and they ended up doing a rally in Southern California and one thing led to another. Now we have seven core issues. Those issues are: life; marriage; education; national sovereignty; … religious freedom, which is a huge issue right now for Americans; sexual exploitation of women and children; … and support for the nation of Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East.
How are we doing on those issues? It’s a mixed bag on many of those issues. For instance, on the life issue, the Allan Guttmacher institute numbers just came out, and abortions are down. They’re the lowest they’ve been since Roe v. Wade. However, even one’s too many. I would say we have come so far, though, because we were getting close to 2 million a year at one point. What’s changed is the country has become more pro-life. Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is not a conservative, admits that the courts jumped into something and created problems instead of letting the states work out this issue, … but now the states are pushing back. We’ve had abortion clinics shutting down all over the country because of two things. Demand has decreased, and also [there are] better state laws. … We’re seeing real traction in the debate … because now we’re making the country talk about what is actually in the womb. It’s not just about a woman’s right to choose. It’s about what she’s choosing. And when we talk about the fetal pain bill, which is the 20-week ban on abortions, suddenly we have to explain, this is why this should be illegal. This is part of our human family.
So, abortion? Progress. Same-sex marriage? Not so much. That’s a very difficult issue. Now, I say, remain calm. There was a time when conservatives were told, you’re just going to have to get over abortion. It is settled law, and you are never going to gain traction. … But guess what? Something changed. Public opinion changed, and there’s a pendulum. Now, the pendulum, admittedly, right now is not swinging in our favor. People don’t understand why it is essential that traditional marriage is honored. That it’s a privileged institution. I would suggest that it will swing back because now you’re seeing the consequences.
In general, what do you see for the future? Are you hopeful, or are you discouraged? Are we really getting better, or are we just maybe slowing slightly the decline. The founders of this nation knew what they were doing. It makes it difficult for one person, one administration, to completely destroy the country, although they can put policies in place that really hurt us. … I would suggest, really, at the heart of decline is our walking away as a country from faith and becoming much more secular. So as long as that trend continues, we’re going to have a problem. But, while that’s happening, I see a shift in our young people coming. … I see that starting to happen right now. Concerned Women for America’s Young Women for America chapters on college campuses just started two years ago and we have 21 now founded, up and going. Our latest was at Princeton University. We have about 35 in the works. I believe that we are on the cutting edge of offering not only a place of community for young, conservative woman on campus who really believe in our founding principles—free-market principles and biblical worldview—to come together and to be a force and to be salt and light on campus, but also to be winsome.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: October 8, 2014