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Reproductive Rights

Dear Amy,

Girl, I'm so freaked out about an article in my local paper. I don't know where to even begin with some kind of rebuttal. Here's the article:

" Prospect and Connecticut women are buying a historic collection of suffragette artifacts to display. Not only did the courageous suffragettes help us as women to achieve the right to vote, but many of them also spoke out against the violence of abortion and its damage to women.

Dr. Charlotte Denman Lozier (1844-1870) was praised in her time for defending a young, pregnant woman, Catherine Fuller, and her pre-born child against abortion. Not only did she counsel her against this course of action but she also compassionately offered her services to help Fuller bear the child. Alice Paul, original author of the Egual Rights Amendment ERA, once said, "Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women." Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) stated that abortion is "murder" and called for a "remedy for such a crying evil." Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) wrote an essay in her publication The Revolution about the "horrible crimes of child murder." Anthony was addressing the subject when she wrote, "We want prevention, not merely punishment. We must reach the root of the evil and destroy it." She spoke of the burden on the conscience of the woman who aborts her child.

Regarding men, Anthony reprimanded them, saying that they should be taught to respect women and be honestly devoted to their wives. Her article on "Marriage and Maternity" is a powerful one! It is a delight to read Susan B. Anthony's words: "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 their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them" There are many other pro-life feminists. I encourage readers to visit our office Resource Center for more information on pro-life feminism-yesterday and today."

Amy, what do I say??? Also is what she said about our foremothers true? Did they really say those things about abortion??? I know what to say about the anti-choice feminism from Manifesta (great book) about how feminism is equality and taking away a women's right to choice is not being equal whether you agree or not. But what else can I say!!! Help!

Thank you so much,


Dear Erin,

I have recently received a few others notes just like yours. There is this semi-new group, Feminists for Life, and they tout Susan B. Anthony as their hero. My guess is that this group has been making a splash in the media and thus creating a buzz about feminist hypocrisy. Ugh! I think it's impossible to apply their quotes from yesterday today - especially in regards to an issue that was at an entirely different stage. As I understand it, Susan B. Anthony and other suffragists did oppose abortion, but on the grounds that it was unsafe to the women and that it was being forced on them - something that feminists today would oppose, too. Our goal isn't to force women to have abortions, but to leave it as an option should women want it. And when women do want it to ensure that it's a safe procedure.

I hope that helps and thanks for challenging this rhetoric.



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