The Original Feminists Were Pro-Life. Why Does This Matter?

Lily Gilliland - 25 Sep 2020

Whenever entering into a potentially controversial conversation, it is important to define our terms to avoid misunderstanding. “Feminism” is one of those abstract concepts that everyone seems to have a different definition for. This leads us to become more wrapped up in semantics rather than focusing on the issue at hand. Feminism as defined by the handy-dandy Merriam Webster Dictionary is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes/organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” I think this definition should suffice for our conversation here today.

First, let me tell you about our Foremothers of The Revolution: the Suffragettes. The suffragettes fought mainly for women’s’ right to vote during 1820-1920. They believed in many wonderful things for men, women, and the world. Among these soaring ideas for their time were: suffrage, temperance, abolition, and the opposition to Restellism, which is the opposition to abortion. The opposition to abortion is what I will discuss. You see, we can easily apply feminism to this time period and say that the suffragettes organized and fought for the social, political, and economic equality for women, especially through their opposition to abortion.

Suffragettes such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton saw abortion as an extension  of women’s oppression saying 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.” In other words, it is a slap in the face to women, who were already reduced to property at the time, to reduce the glory and power of their motherhood to mere objectification as well. The suffragettes saw motherhood and the miracle of birth as a force that no man could ever have. It sets men and women apart, and therefore provides an inherent and beautiful power for women.

Another important element of this conversation to consider is the current installation of “Feminism.” In the present day, the “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights, and the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” seems to be solely rested on the idea of abortion. This is far from the suffragettes’ vision of Women’s Rights. No longer is the movement advocating for noble ideas such as abolition and suffrage. We’ve already accomplished these. Yet, why are we still fighting the same battle against abortion?

In a sense, we’ve regressed in Women’s Rights. I believe that the suffragettes would agree that to celebrate abortion is to tell women that they need to shed their inherent qualities and become more like men in order to be respected. This dangerous idea does not seem to follow the definition of feminism; rather than fighting the system for true social, economic, and political equality for women, abortion asks women to assimilate and give up their power. Abortion is a bandage for inequality. Abortion is a deception of current day “Feminism”.

Now more than ever it is important to remember the women who fought for our rights, so that we aren’t fooled by the “Feminism” of today. If we are fooled into thinking that abortion is the truth of Women’s Rights, we as women willingly give up our power. We trade in our glory for counterfeit respect.

Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum. 

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