The American Feminist
After 75 Years: A More Humane Culture?
We women recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave our sex the right to vote. Seventy-five years seems like a long time, until I consider that women were not allowed to vote in most states in this country at the time that my own mother was born. And my grandmother -- a strong, independent, highly intelligent woman -- was 44 years old the first time she was able to cast a ballot. (However, she told me that women's suffrage just meant that she got two votes, because she had been telling my grandfather how to vote for years.) Having been greatly influenced as a child by my grandmother's wry wisdom, I now find it incredible that for the first half of her life she was deemed unfit to participate in the decisions of democracy solely because of her sex.
The inherent injustice of denying a class of persons such a basic right as that of the vote seems so obvious to us now, but it took the suffragists more than 70 years to persuade their countrymen to pass and ratify the 19th Amendment in 1920. Our foremothers believed that society would be greatly improved when women were active participants in its management, because the "maternal thinking" of women would demand a more humane, compassionate culture.
So it was with an exquisite sense of irony that I watched pro-abortion feminists dress up like suffragists to commemorate the anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Susan B. Anthony and her supporters would have been appalled that so many modern feminists consider abortion, not the vote, to be the cornerstone of women's equality.
The women who struggled so tenaciously to secure the rights of women were also steadfast in their defense of the rights of all human beings, including the unborn. They realized that all human rights are inextricably entwined, and that rights can survive only in an atmosphere of responsibility. They considered the practice of abortion to be a paradigm of society's failure to recognize both the rights of children and the responsibilities of adults. It is tragic that modern pro-abortion feminists have forgotten and ignored their foremothers' brilliant analysis of this issue.
But I remain hopeful that the moral evolution that eventually secured suffrage for women will continue to unfold. After all, we are amazed when we talk to those who remember the sad, dark days when women had no right to vote. Perhaps in 70 years our granddaughters will be amazed when they talk to those who remember the sad, dark days when the unborn had no right to life.Rosemary Oelrich Bottcher, President, FFLA
Reprinted from The American Feminist, Winter 1995/1996