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Phyllis Schlafly, Who Opposed Equal Rights Amendment, Dies At 92


And let's take a moment to remember Phyllis Schlafly, who died at age 92.


She was famous for opposing the Equal Rights Amendment back in the 1970s and speaking up for traditional gender roles. Women bear the children, she said, so men should provide support. Penny Young Nance is on the line. She's the leader of the conservative activist group Concerned Women for America. Welcome to the program.

PENNY YOUNG NANCE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: And sorry for your loss, because I know you knew Phyllis Schlafly. What did she mean to you?

NANCE: Yeah, she's a woman who was one of the first conservative women to have a national platform. And that's, you know, really kind of an interesting thought there - that for - she was groundbreaking in her own way, in a way, I think, feminists didn't like, but was important for conservative women. She gave us a voice. I stand today on her shoulders in that I have a national platform to speak about the life issue and conservative issues.

INSKEEP: This was a period of women's liberation, as it was called in that - in that era quite a lot. And she was going the other way.

NANCE: Well, and she stood on a platform, pregnant with her sixth child, and traveled the country and spoke on behalf of life. She fought communism. She wrote a book that sold 3 million copies - as a housewife - called "An Echo, Not A Choice" and - or, excuse me, "A Choice, Not An Echo" - and broke ground in her own way. And it's really - it's - today, for those of us that are pro-life and are conservative, we feel her loss. She was a great thinker, a prolific writer and a kind person.

INSKEEP: Although some people who opposed her politically will be scratching their heads and asking, what was wrong with equal rights?

NANCE: Well it wasn't the point, of course. And people always ask me that question, like, you know, they - are you a feminist? I say, what does that mean? They say, well, do you believe in equal pay for equal work? And I say, of course I do. What - that issue is so much more complicated than just the way that it was framed. And she understood that it had to do with some of the issues that we're fighting today.

Should women be forced to register for the draft? Do we have any special - do we have any rights because we are women, or do - are we all exactly the same in every single way? Does the fact that we give birth to children give us any special right or identity. And, you know, we would say, you know, as - should we separate women from their children and force them into frontline combat against their will? That's really the question that we're asking today in the NDAA bill.

INSKEEP: In just a few words, was she as tough in private as she seemed to be in public?

NANCE: She - she was very strong, but she was very kind.

INSKEEP: OK. That's Penny Young Nance. Thanks very much for joining us this morning.

NANCE: Thank you.

INSKEEP: She is CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, talking with us after we've learned the news that Phyllis Schlafly has died at the age of 92. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.