Abortion Religious Right

Feminist and Liberal Voices Against Abortion

Historically and in the present very strong feminist and liberal voices have been raised against the practice of abortion. Here is a list of quotes form “Feminist Foremothers”. They are pretty strong, and it is quite significant that they clearly come from the historic American left. These are from the Feminists For Life website.

    Please notice a few things in these quotes:

  • the need to hold men to their responsibility along with women,
  • the need to focus on prevention,
  • the corollary concern with economic and power issues,
  • belief in the rights of the unborn,
  • the frequent use of words like “crime” and “guilt”.

This is not a fun topic — as is the case with so many other crucial issues these days. But, like those other issues, it is a significant part of our national life, and needs continuing and open treatment.

Voices of our Feminist Foremothers

Susan B. Anthony,
in her publication “The Revolution”, has written:

“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. 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!”

Abortion was referred to as “child murder.”
“The Revolution”, 4(1):4 July 8, 1869

We want prevention, not merely punishment. We must reach the root of the evil…It is practiced by those whose inmost souls revolt from the dreadful deed.”
“The Revolution”, 4(1):4 July 8, 1869

“All the articles on this subject that I have read have been from men. They denounce women as alone guilty, and never include man in any plans for the remedy.”
“The Revolution”, 4(1):4 July 8, 1869

Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

She classified abortion as a form of “infanticide.” “The Revolution”, 1(5):1, February 5, 1868

“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.”
Letter to Julia Ward Howe, October 16, 1873, recorded in Howe’s diary at Harvard University Library

“There must be a remedy even for such a crying evil as this. But where shall it be found, at least where begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of women?”
The Revolution, 1(10):146-7 March 12, 1868

Emma Goldman

The custom of procuring abortions has reached such appalling proportions in America as to be beyond belief…So great is the misery of the working classes that seventeen abortions are committed in every one hundred pregnancies.”
Mother Earth, 1911

Mattie Brinkerhoff

“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.”
“The Revolution”, 4(9):138-9 September 2, 1869

Victoria Woodhull, the first female presidential candidate was a strong opponent of abortion.

The rights of children as individuals begin while yet they remain the foetus.”
“Woodhull’s and Claffin’s Weekly” 2(6):4 December 24, 1870

“Every woman knows that if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for child, nor think of murdering one before its birth.”
Wheeling, “West Virginia Evening Standard”, November 17, 1875

Sarah Norton

“Child murderers practice their profession without let or hindrance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned…Is there no remedy for all this ante-natal child murder?…Perhaps there will come a time when…an unmarried mother will not be despised because of her motherhood…and when the right of the unborn to be born will not be denied or interfered with.”
“Woodhull’s and Claffin’s Weekly”, November 19, 1870

Mary Wollstonecraft. As early as 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” which Susan B. Anthony admired enough to serialize in “The Revolution”. After decrying, in scathing 18th century terms, the sexual exploitation of women, she said:

“Women becoming, consequently, weaker…than they ought to be…have not sufficient strength to discharge the first duty of a mother; and sacrificing to lasciviousness the parental affection…either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast if off when born. Nature in every thing demands respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity.”

Matilda Gage

“[This] subject lies deeper down in woman’s wrongs than any other…I hesitate not to assert that most of [the responsibility for] this crime lies at the door of the male sex.”
“The Revolution”, 1(14):215-6 April 9, 1868

Alice Paul. The author of the original Equal Rights Amendment (1923) opposed the later trend of linking the E.R.A. with abortion. A colleague recalls her saying:

“Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.”

(c) 2004 Feminists for Life

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12 Comments

  • Yes, there are medical situations where an abortion is the only way to save the mother’s life. But the reality is, that the majority of abortions DO occur because the child is an inconvienience.

  • Really, people need to humble themselves, who love to spew hate about abortion. It makes me wonder if any of these people KNOW any women who have been pregnant. Because so many women have been through so much heartbreak about abortion – the loss of a child – who are NOT simply acting out of inconvenience.

    It fosters a hateful climate within US churches, to have people carrying on this way towards women. Many, many women have faced the loss of a child – surgically – for medical complications. Does anyone think all this hatred against them from the pulpit will really lure women to churhc? Or if a woman makes the error of having abortion in her youth, does anyone suppose she will then be comfortable inside a church where her face is rubbed in her grief and shame every Sunday when all this crap comes from the pulpit? Is this a loving environment for women?

    All the hyperbole about abortion is, in the end, so much misogyny. Yes, misogyny is rampant in the US, and it is masquerading as all this Christian righteousness. People just LOVE to feel holier than someone else, and like always, women are the easiest beings to pick on of all.

    What humility is in all this hateful preaching against abortion? Who is learning to walk upright in Christ through what is mostly this waste of time? Or does anyone think women are coming into the church to make up their minds whether or not to have abortions? No. It is the church railing against the world. And it will attract no women whose lives have been hurt by any kind of abortion experience.

    I really doubt that ANY people who screech hate about abortion have personally been through the evil, or had anyone they dearly loved go through it. Especially the hateful women who make political grandstands out of anti-abortion rhetoric. Because if they had lost a child in utero, through abortion or otherwise, they would know what EVERY mother who ever lost a child knows… what EVERY woman who has an abortion finds out too late… that although the child is gone in the flesh, they never, never leave you in spirit.

    And with such a grief forever in her heart, what mother of a lost life wants to go to church for further torment?

    DAMN IT ALL, when will these shrill hatemongers humble themselves towards women? “What you have done to the least of these, you have done unto Me.” The Lord loves the woman who has an abortion as well as the fetus, but the churches hate women. Be advised, you who act this way – you also hate the Lord.

  • Why is it, that every abortion remark/website/debate I have ever seen on the internet or heard on the radio is premised on this argument: that abortion is primarily occurring because the pregnancy is an inconvenience to the mother?

    Doesn’t anyone realize that there are as many reasons – sound medical reasons – for abortion as there are people who need them? Do abortion opponents really believe it is that rare, that people and their doctors elect abortion for life/death issues?

    Or why do people engage in fantasyland imaginings about the uterus, unlike their ideas about other parts of the body, as if the uterus were somehow immune to medical failure? People allow that arthritis, heart disease, kidney failure, broken bones, strokes, diabetes, cancer and everything else under the sun is real and true affliction, and they seek appropriate medical remedies every chance they get. How do the same people then disallow that there are profound complications affecting the reproductive tracts of women at least as often as any of the other above afflictions?

    Do people really think that women all want abortion because of sheer inconvenience? Because this is the premise of nearly every word that is shot around the press as well as rhetoric fueling lay discussion. Why is all discussion I hear premised on this simple-minded judgment against women?

    People die from complications of pregnancy every day, all over the world. The shared circulation system between a pregnant woman and a fetus can have deadly mutual effects, and often does. When the blood becomes toxic (which can happen when a fetus becomes sickened in utero), both parties become sick. Sometimes the only reasonable choice is that the fetus must die, because if the mother dies first, so does the fetus by proxy. So does the conservative side prescribe tough luck – let the mother die with the fetus? I have seen websites that prescribe this (American Life League, who backed John Ashcroft). The reproductive tract of a woman is extremely complex, and there is so much that can go wrong. A good doctor often foresees these things before someone has to die. So if people elect to have doctors treat other problems, what is different about allowing for a realistic relationship between a woman and her doctor?

    Sure, abortion for convenience is repellent. Or who is “pro-abortion” anyway, or running around advising women to have an abortion for a “character builder?” But that is not the only reason women get abortions.

    Or do we really want the US to resemble Afghanistan where, last I knew, one out of every 25 pregnant women died from either childbirth or pregnancy complications? Is that the conservative idea of godliness for US women, to be dying of pregnancy complications?

  • You might think that women played no role in concieving a child. Force her to bear children? Only if she’s been raped. If she willingly has sexual relations then she willingly risks pregnancy. Why do you let a woman off the hook for her responsibility? How ludicrous.

    Real liberation is when you control yourself and take responsibility for your actions. Especially in a day where preventing pregnancy is so available, women have no excuse and if the prevention doesn’t work, it’s a risk she and her partner accepted when they engaged in the sexual act.

    A little self control goes a long way as does a little morality. The ultimate child abuse is abortion.

  • Personally I would have no problem with outlawing abortion (except for rape, incest, health of mother, ect.) IF and only if we also provided free confidential birth control, and comprehensive sex ed to every person of child bearing age. Today that means every child of around 8. What drives me nuts is that the same peole who oppose abortion are often the same people who oppose teaching kids how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy. Isn’t the best way to eliminate abortion to prevent unwanted pregnancy?

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