Sheppard-Towner: The “Red Menace”
At first, the intent of the Sheppard-Towner Act was to improve the health of women and children. In the early 1920s, the Women’s Joint Congressional Committee, a coalition of pro-suffrage interest groups, was successful in defining the issue as a help to needy families. The main opposition came from the American Medical Association, which labeled the program excessive “federal interference.” The egalitarian feminists of the National Woman’s Party balked as well, unhappy with the act’s assumption that all women were mothers. But this conflict took a backseat to the wave of patriotic, right-wing opposition that rose in the late 1920s.