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Published: March 1, 2012 8:38 am to Human Rights News

Celebrate Women’s History Month with America’s original feminists

Many view Roe vs. Wade as the court decision that gave women in the United States more rights. In reality, it was verdict that stripped human beings of the basic right to life, and lead women into a future of unfathomable exploitation. If today you are against abortion, you are thought to be against feminism and against women. But America’s first feminists were strong women standing up for equal rights, even for the unborn. March is Women’s History Month, which provides us with the perfect opportunity to teach our daughters about these women who have fought not only for the rights of women, but for the rights of the unborn as well.

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) campaigned across the country for the anti-slavery movement, and the rights of women to vote, to work and to own property. Throughout her life, she worked as an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society, as the president of the Workingwomen’s Central Association, and as the president of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association (NWSA). She founded the voice of the NWSA, called The Revolution. Anthony was anti-abortion.

 “All the articles on this subject (abortion) that I have read have been from men. They denounce women as alone guilty, and never include man in any plans for the remedy. . . Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed (abortion). It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) co-founded The Revolution and the NWSA with Anthony and worked alongside her in the fight for rights for slaves and women. She helped initiate the women’s rights movement with the first Woman’s Rights Convention in 1848 and was president of the NWSA for 20 years.  Stanton was a writer who penned many of the speeches Anthony delivered, as well as The Women’s Bible. When it came to abortion, Stanton was pro-life.

“When we consider that women have been treated as property it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was the first female doctor in the United States. In 1856 she opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children which provided training and experience for women doctors as well as medical care for the poor. She was firmly against abortion.

The gross perversion and destruction of motherhood by the abortionist filled me with indignation, and awakened active antagonism. That the honorable term ‘female physician’ should be exclusively applied to those women who carried on this shocking trade seemed to me a horror. It was an utter degradation of what might and should become a noble position for women.” – in response to an article about female doctor/abortionist Madame Restell

Mattie H. Brinkerhoff (1800s) was the first denominationally ordained woman reverend in the U.S. and she was anti-abortion. In 1869 she wrote a letter to The Revolution and her words have been quoted by Feminists for Life ever since.

“When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong in society – so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged.”

Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927) fought for equal education for women, women’s right to vote, and women’s right to control their own health decisions. She was the first woman to run for president, which she did under the Equal Rights Party. She was against abortion.

“Men must no longer insult all womanhood by saying that freedom means the degradation of woman. Every woman knows if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for child, nor think of murdering one before its birth.”

Alice Paul (1885-1977) was a member of the NWSA and she worked tirelessly for the Equal Rights Amendment. She formed the World Woman’s Party, which worked with the League of Nations for the inclusion of gender equality into the United Nations Charter as well as the establishment of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. In 1943, the Equal Rights Amendment was rewritten and dubbed the “Alice Paul Amendment.”

 “Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.”

About Nancy Flanders

Nancy is a work at home mom who writes about parenting, special needs children, and the right to life. She is the lucky mother of three spirited little girls, one who has cystic fibrosis, and she spends any free moment she can find fundraising for a cure for CF. You can read her personal blog at www.ChronicAdmissions.com.
View all posts by Nancy Flanders

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=681473501 Clarissa Masnaghetti

    Awesome article.  We seem to have forgotten what these women already knew: if we were truly equal we wouldn’t feel that we had no other options.

  • Liz Daming

    Mmmmm….. I have to disagree with a lot of this article. Feminism is wrong…..always. It’s unbiblical and goes back to Eve (“Not Your way God, my way”). Here’s a great article: http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com/feminism-related-issues/whats-wrong-with-this-picture/

  • http://www.facebook.com/allamericankate Helen Dennis

    Wonderful… I always love to see strong women leaders who don’t feel equality equates to manly. God blessed us with these women, the work they did is still working today!

  • http://www.facebook.com/allamericankate Helen Dennis

    A woman having the right to vote, own land and, in the case of divorce, have a right to her children is wrong? The original feminists fought for women to simply have rights…

  • Marysia

    Susan B. Anthony *may* have written the quote attributed above to her. There is evidence both for and against her authorship. There is also much better evidence that she opposed abortion. So why cite something that is so iffy and so questioned?

    Also, it’s important to understand the context in which early feminists opposed abortion.

    Precisely *because* they regarded abortion as prenatal lifetaking, Anthony and other early feminists advocated vigorously for voluntary family planning, sex education, the lifting of stigma off single mothers, and other genuine reproductive rights which so many professed prolifers today undermine and sabotage.

    They opposed abortion, yes. But that does not render them into the paragons of conservatism and “traditional family values” that some would have you believe they were.

    • Ana D’Urso

      True, but they certainly don’t fit in nicely with TODAY’S pro-choice feminists either…

      • Marysia

         That’s no reason to invoke & rely upon the shakier evidence for Susan B. Anthony’s views on abortion.

        Nor is it a reason for today’s prolifers to turn away en masse from actively and vigorously supporting all the abortion-preventing measures named above.

        There’s no telling what early feminists would think of the abortion debate today. But I suspect they’d be bewildered why one side regards abortion as unjust prenatal lifetaking, while undermining measures that could make abortion obsolete-and why the other side regards abortion as an ethical choice, but supports measures that in effect reduce its incidence.

        • enness

          Planned Parenthood can’t even argue that contraception will make abortion obsolete.  The Alan Guttmacher Institute can’t.  NARAL can’t.  As long as there are humans, there will be human error, and even with perfectly consistent use a certain number will fail anyway.  Speaking of which, did you happen to see that there is another recall of birth control pills?  Second time in a month.  First it was Pfizer, now it is Glenmark.  They were made in India; the order of the pills was mixed up, in all likelihood rendering them ineffective.  If that’s what you want to put your trust in and have everybody’s futures hang in the balance, you are either very brave or very foolish.  I think I’ll pass.

        • Ana D’Urso

          I also want to know what exactly do pro-choicers do to “reduce the incidence” of abortion… (Besides promoting birth control and sex education,)

        • Ana D’Urso

          Well as questionable as Susan B Anthony’s views on abortion may have been,  it still does not dismiss the overwhelming evidence of women who were involved in pro-life and pro-woman causes, and actively decried abortion.

  • Mpadraighfoley

    An incident with my own daughter brought me to tears. She came to me and asked advice. It seems that many of todays youth have been coursened by the pervasive degradation of culture and women,especially young women are paying the costs. it used to be that boys would try to pressure a girl by saying that if you don’t do it then you don’t love me,but girls who were not ready had equally as persuasive a defence. Now the boys cite the abundance of free conraception,they say its Ok ’cause I have protection,they say its just sex and that everyone’s doing it,they say that it doesn’t matter ‘caause if you get pregnant we can get you a free abortion.  In theory they have separated the physical act of love from the emotional attachments. But nothing is further from the truth.  So many girls find it difficult to resist this societal pressure and are basically forced into behaviors they don’t approve of,even convincing themselves that it is alright. But when the guy dumps them after using them for recreational sex they are devastated. And if the “fun” time results in pregnancy they are often pressured to have an abortion when they do not agree with it in their hearts.Many of these girls then become the “bitches and hoes” the boys talk about because they don’t know how to deal with the extreme loss and guilt they feel over something that “doesn’t matter”. We have to work dillenglty to change this for the sake of women and society. In the mean time lets do our best to set an example of love and respect for our daughters and our sons to follow. And if you know a girl who has been devasted by the choice she has made please love her and let her know that there is forgiveness,that she can be made whole again.

    • SerenityPlease

      Reading this made me think of Dannah Gresh’s 2 part programs on Human Sexuality on Focus on the Family, recently. Really worth listening to, as she explains the physical aspects of sex and the wrenching emotions women experience when “dumped”.

  • Claudia Machado

    I dont want to sound preachy but the Bible says that the truth will set us free, and this article proves exactly that. Thanks for opening our eyes

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