Voices of our Feminist Foremothers
Susan B. AnthonyIn her publication The Revolution, was 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."
"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."
"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."
Elizabeth Cady StantonStanton wrote, regarding prostitution and the "murder of children, either before or after birth": "For a quarter of a century sober, thinking women have warned this nation of these thick coming dangers, and pointed to the only remedy, the education and enfranchisement of woman... We believe the cause of all these abuses lies in the degradation of woman."The Revolution, 1(5):1, February 5, 1868
"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 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."
Victoria WoodhullThe first female presidential candidate was a strong opponent of abortion.
"The rights of children as individuals begin while yet they remain the foetus."
"Every woman knows that if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for child, nor think of murdering one before its birth."
"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."
Mary WollstonecraftAs 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."
"[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."
Alice PaulThe 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."