The following comes from a November 4 Time Magazine article by Marjorie Dannenfelser. Dannenfelser is the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political action committee.
The suffragette movement is the subject of the new movie Suffragette. Starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep, it tells the story of the struggle for women’s rights in Great Britain from the viewpoint of a young, working-class mother. Thousands of women like her fought courageously for the right to vote so they could use that power to improve the economic and social conditions that oppressed them and their families.
In America, too, brave and farsighted suffragettes worked to obtain the right to vote, and thus the right to true citizenship, for women. Their victory paved the way for the full participation by women in the economic, social and political spheres. Our nation has been incomparably enriched by their contributions and accomplishments.
But would those early pioneers recognize the movement that claims to speak for the rights of women today?
On the issue of abortion, they would not. Many of today’s feminists see abortion as one of the touchstones of their movement. Yet many of the early leaders of the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. believed that the rights of mother and child are inextricably linked and that the right to life and the right to vote are rooted in the inherent dignity of each human person.
The public statements of many early champions of women’s rights in the U.S. make clear their opposition. Elizabeth Cady Stanton referred to abortion as “infanticide” and wrote that “when we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” Victoria Woodhull, the first female candidate for president, wrote: “Every woman knows that if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for child, nor think of murdering one before its birth.” And Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S., wrote: “The gross perversion and destruction of motherhood by the abortionist filled me with indignation, and awakened active antagonism.”
Today, our mission is equally simple. Women who join us reject the idea that feminism requires them to be at war with their own children, or to direct their tax dollars to organizations that perform abortions. In so doing, they honor the legacy of the original champions of women’s rights.