Susan B. Anthony is a hero of the feminist movement, and with good cause:
She was a trailblazer in the women’s movement in the late 1800’s. A Quaker who never married, Anthony devoted her energy first to the abolition of slavery, and then to women’s equality at the ballot box. She and other early feminists believed that the power of the vote was the key to fulfilling
all other goals.
Willing to go to jail for what she believed, Anthony illegally cast a ballot in the 1872 presidential election and was arrested. Regard for her by modern-day advocates of women’s rights led to the production of the Susan B. Anthony $1 coin in 1979.
There is, however, one thing these advocates don’t know about Anthony, something that might temper their adoration: Susan B. Anthony was pro-life.
A hundred years ago, Anthony wrote an essay in her publication, The Revolution, about the “horrible crime of child-murder.” She was considering specifically the tragedy of abortion within marriage, wherein a pregnant wife “destroys the little being, she thinks, before it lives.”
Anthony wanted to “eradicate this most monitors crime” but feared that laws alone would not be sufficient: “We must reach the root of the evil and destroy it.”
Anthony wrote about this evil with passion: “Guilty? Yes, no matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is woefully guilty who commits this deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh! Thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation which impels her to the crime.”
When a man sought to compliment (Susan B. Anthony) by saying what a fine mother she would have been, she responded, “Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.”
Early Historical Feminists
Mary Krane Derr, an author… researched the writings of early historical feminists for the book Pro-Life Feminism: Yesterday and Today. Derr discovered dozens of essays by a wide range of feminists decrying the violence of abortion and its damage to women.
“According to the early feminists, abortion resulted from the denial of the pregnant woman’s humanity as much as from a denial of the unborn child’s,” wrote Derr who still terms herself a feminist. “Women felt pressured into aborting because they were deprived of truly life-affirming sexual and reproductive options. This is still very much the case. If we don’t want unborn children to be treated as insensate clumps of tissue, we must, first of all, ensure that their mothers are not treated as insensate clumps of tissue.”
Often in her speeches, Sidney Callahan (feminist, author, and psychologist) often shocks her audiences by declaring “Women will never climb to equality over mounds of dead fetuses.”