Feminists for Life celebrates the memory of Alice Stokes Paul (1885-1977) in the days immediately preceding the February 15th premiere of HBO's film "Iron Jawed Angels." The movie portrays Paul's bold and daring battle for the 19th Amendment, which granted American women the right to vote.
"The last seven years of suffrage were marked by peaceful protest, but the reactions were far from peaceful," said FFL President Serrin Foster. "Alice Paul was knocked to the ground and dragged down the street. Women were arrested, forced to disrobe in front of a company of men, incarcerated, fed infested food and rotting horsemeat. Their mail was cut off and they were forced to perform hard labor. The guards terrorized them - some were tossed like dolls head first into their prison cells and rendered unconscious. One political prisoner was left handcuffed to a spot above the cell door all night long. But women became more resolved than ever to win the vote."
Foster looks forward to more women learning about our rich feminist history. "Most people have no idea how Alice Paul and other suffragists suffered for our right to vote. Even fewer know they opposed abortion."
Paul saw the 19th Amendment ratified on August 28, 1920. But her efforts on behalf of women were not ended. She penned the original Equal Rights Amendment and continued to work for the recognition of women's rights.
Yet the direction the women's movement took in later years was a source of frustration for Alice Paul, because she thoroughly opposed attempts to link the ERA with abortion.
In the mid-seventies Pat Goltz, co-founder of Feminists for Life, had the honor of meeting Paul. Paul had known some of our earlier feminist foremothers, and made it clear to Goltz that the early feminists were altogether opposed to abortion. She then related to Goltz her concern that abortion would destroy feminism if it were not stopped. Paul's long-time colleague Evelyn Judge also recalled that she called abortion "the ultimate exploitation of women" and asked, "How can one protect and help women by killing them as babies?"
FFL President Serrin Foster agrees. "The legacy of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul lives on in those who refuse to choose between women and children, who cherish the right of women to vote, and who peacefully defend the right of children to be born."
More information about Alice Paul and our other feminist foremothers is available on Feminists for Life's newly redesigned website (www.feministsforlife.org).
the early American feminists who opposed abortion,
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