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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  • Barb writes: “At the heart of their attitude towards women is the passage in Genesis where God puts Adam over Eve after the fall.” I have often marveled at the logical fallacy of men abusing this Scripture to lord it over women (not women’s circumstance before the fall). Such tortured reasoning would dictate maximizing the results of the fall for men too: since the earth was also cursed, and toil was pronounced, why not remove all mechanized technology from manual labor, so that the curse could be maximized for both men and women alike?

  • I’m glad to see this information getting out and being made public because I have become so tired of the right trying to distort the positions of those who disagree with them on the issue of abortion, as well as many other issues. Feminists both past and present have always been mostly concerned with the welfare of women, who are harmed by abortion, while the Christian right has always regarded women as less-than-human vessels for having their children. At the heart of their attitude towards women is the passage in Genesis where God puts Adam over Eve after the fall. However, if the Christian right truly believes that Jesus came to forgive our sins, that has to include the first sin, and Jesus changed that paradigm as he changed so many others.

  • Interesting that our foremothers were for forced childbearing. How disrespectful and inconsiderate. I am pro-choice, only because reproduction should be left in the hands of those who bear 100% of the risk for the reproduction and whose lives will be forever changed as a result of the birth. AND, because, reproduction or the lack thereof has always been a weapon used to manipulate and control women.

    I remember the days when abortion was illegal. . .we despised our reproductive capabilities and the attitudes expressed, especially toward unmarried women. Now, with all the choices, to carry a pregnancy to term is a burden that is often welcome because it is a choice that is chosen, not forced.

    It is interesting that in our country, no one can be foreced to give a pint of blood against their will, even if it would save a life; no one can be forced to giveup a kidney or bone marrow, etc, but yet, when it comes to women of childbearing age, those rules aren’t even considered. Why? I don’t think innocence has anything to do with it. I believe if the rules were applied evenly to both genders, a new attitude towards unwanted pregnancy would be expressed loudly.