Kudos to Ellen Goodman for eloquently joining the chorus calling to just leave Jane Roberts out of speculations about her husband, Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. (“John Roberts May or May Not Be Our Cup of Tea,” July 28, 2005)
As Ms. Goodman notes, Jane Sullivan Roberts is a member of Feminists for Life: “To many being a pro-life feminist is an oxymoron, though there aren't so many women eager to identify themselves as feminists that I would kick Jane out of the sisterhood.”
That's a good thing. Especially since those who first defined the movement, British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, early American feminist Susan B. Anthony, founder of the Seneca Falls Convention, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and author of the Equal Rights Amendment, Alice Paul, all opposed abortion on the basis of civil rights and as an exploitation of women.
The same women who fought for our right to vote also fought for our right to life. We proudly continue their legacy.
It wasn't until the '70s women's movement that abortion became linked to women's rights. According to Bernard Nathanson, M.D., cofounder of National Association to Repeal Abortion Laws and forefather of today's NARAL Pro-Choice America, they convinced the leaders of women's organizations that if women wanted to be hired like a man, paid like a man, and promoted like a man, then women would need to control their own fertility. After all, why should the boss be bothered with maternity benefits, maternity and parental leave?
Similarly, Sarah Weddington argued Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court in part on the basis that a pregnant woman could not complete her college education if she were pregnant. Why not? Is she suddenly stupid? Can she not read, write or think?
Since then, women have struggled to balance work and family, and nowhere more so than on college campuses, where orientation and student handbooks cover many problems students face—sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol and drug abuse, depression, etc.—but are eerily silent about school policies supporting pregnant and parenting students. As one board member remarked about her own struggle, “Without housing, day care and maternity coverage, it doesn't feel like much of a free choice.”
We appreciate Ms. Goodman's recognition that focusing on the unmet needs of women is a better way to address abortion. Abortion is a reflection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion.
Ms. Goodman goes on to say, “FFL is coy about whether it seeks to criminalize abortion, eerily quiet on contraceptives and silent about whether it trusts women as ethical decision makers.” Answers to those good questions and more can be found at http://feministsforlife.org/FAQ/index.htm
Serrin M. Foster
Feminists for Life of America
Webmaster's note: Additional answers to "Pro-Woman Answers to Pro-Choice Questions," authored by Serrin M. Foster with a new section by International Director Marie Smith, will be sent to new members and donors. Additional copies can be purchased for $5 plus S&H.