Few people know that the early feminist movement was staunchly Pro-Life. Ironically, many feminist groups, such as NOW, have made advocacy for abortion their priority—a goal that would have startled and disappointed the founders of the suffragist movement. Other groups, however, including Feminists for Life and Susan B. Anthony List, have preserved the true message of these founding women, who spent significant time writing and lecturing on the atrocity of abortion and its degrading effects on women.
The following is a sample of the wisdom and efforts of the Pro-Life movement’s founding mothers. (All quotes are excerpts from Pro-Life Feminism: Yesterday and Today, by Kane Derr, Rachel MacNair, and Linda Naranjo-Heub.)
• Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, America’s first female physician, was rejected from over a dozen medical schools before being admitted to Geneva Medical College in 1845—and only then was accepted as a prank. Despite relentless harassment, she graduated at the top of her class and subsequently started the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. She boldly hired many female employees as well as Dr. Rebecca Cole (the nation’s second African-American female physician). The Infirmary became a safe haven in New York City for single pregnant women—who were otherwise ostracized and left to die. She, too, challenged the medical community to understand that life began at fertilization.
• Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the three most prominent suffragist leaders, traveled and lectured on the rights of women and unborn children while raising seven youngsters of her own. In 1870 she emphasized, “We must educate our daughters that maternity is grand, and that God never cursed it, and the curse, if there be any, may be rolled off…..Let woman assert herself in all her native purity, dignity, and strength, and end this wholesale suffering and murder of helpless children. With centuries of degradation, we have so little of true womanhood that the world has but the faintest glimmering of what woman is or should be.”
Our hope and prayer is that Texas Right to Life will carry on this vision of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and of the numerous other Pro-Life heroines as we seek to restore true womanhood and build a Culture of Life.
Today’s Pro-Life Feminist
Today, many women are Pro-Life and pro-woman. To truly be feminist, and therefore pro-woman, one should not have to choose between women and children. Unfortunately, these strong women are not represented well in the state and federal legislature. The majority of women currently in politics are pro-abortion. Thankfully, the tides seem to be changing, and the American public is starting to show a preference for pro-woman, Pro-Life candidates.
On June 8, 2010, Pro-Life women won major races in California, New Jersey, Nevada, South Carolina, and South Dakota. Susan B. Anthony List president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, called the June 8 victories “the greatest affirmation of our mission in the history of the organization,” and “proof that Americans are responding to authentic, Pro-Life feminism.” These Pro-Life women can be a shining example of true womanhood in politics in their states and their country.