GOP Lawmakers To Smithsonian: Take Down That Margaret Sanger Bust!

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October 13, 2015 5:28 p.m.
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A group of Republican lawmakers are reiterating their call for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery to remove a bust of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and 25 House members sent a letter to the museum’s director Kim Sajet Friday calling the display of the bust “an affront both to basic human decency and the very meaning of justice.”

The letter pointed to Sanger’s support of eugenics, but also blasted her for founding Planned Parenthood, which has been in the crosshairs of congressional Republicans and nearly prompted them to shutdown the federal government rather the reauthorize its funding.

“Renewed concern and scrutiny of Ms. Sanger’s background stems from the recent ongoing revelations of Planned Parenthood’s potential activities in the trafficking of fetal tissue and baby body parts from abortions,” the letter said. It goes on to take out of context a line from a 1939 letter written by Sanger to suggest Planned Parenthood was formed to “exterminate the Negro population.”

Calls from conservatives that the gallery remove Sanger’s likeness from its “Struggle for Justice” exhibit began in the summer, when NPR reported that the letter was “making the rounds” among lawmakers.

At the time, a National Portrait Gallery spokeswoman defended the decision to include her in the exhibit, arguing the museum wasn’t ignoring, “the less-than-admirable aspects of [Sanger’s] career.”

“No one has to pass a moral test to be included in a museum,” Bethany Bentley, the gallery’s head of communications, told NPR. “Everyone has something in their background or beliefs, especially looking back at history. You can look at every president up to Zachary Taylor — they owned slaves.”

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