Feminists for Life mourns the loss of Eunice Kennedy Shriver


Alexandria, VA. — Feminists for Life of America remembers the many contributions of Eunice Kennedy Shriver whom FFL honored among Remarkable Pro-Life Women® in 1998. Shriver died the morning of Tuesday, August 11, 2009, at the age of 88, surrounded by her family.

Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum founder Carol Crossed introduced FFL President Serrin M. Foster to Ms. Shriver at a pro-life dinner in 1994. “Ms. Shriver asked me to help organize an event in her home honoring Mary Cunningham Agee of the Nurturing Network. I was happy to help host an event for an organization focused on serving pregnant women in college and in the workplace.”

Foster remembers meeting with Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, together with then-intern coordinator Elise Ehrhard, when Feminists for Life opened the Washington office. “We were taking on too many things, especially for an office with one staff member. They encouraged us to do one thing and do it well, as they had done, serving the mentally challenged by founding the Special Olympics.” Foster and the FFL Board took the Shrivers’ strategic and thoughtful guidance to heart, and the College Outreach Program soon became FFL’s flagship program.

When The American Feminist® first named Eunice Kennedy Shriver a Remarkable Pro-Life Woman, Foster recalls, “her husband phoned the office and asked us to send over a stack of copies for his family and friends. He was delighted that we recognized her in this meaningful way.” (Please see the article honoring Ms. Shriver below.)

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a lifelong pro-life Democrat, was the sister of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, and Senator Edward Kennedy. Her husband, who survives her, was former U.S. Ambassador to France and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Sargent Shriver. They have five children (Robert, California First Lady Maria, Timothy, Mark, and Anthony) and nineteen grandchildren.

The board and staff of Feminists for Life extends their heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Her legacy will live on in our work and especially in the work of Special Olympics.

The text from the original article honoring her follows.

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WHEN EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor in 1984, then-President Ronald Reagan declared, “With enormous conviction and unrelenting effort, Eunice Kennedy Shriver has labored on behalf of America’s least powerful, those with mental retardation. Her decency and goodness have touched the lives of many.” Shriver, a longtime supporter of Feminists for Life of America, has demonstrated a lifelong concern for the “least powerful.” The founder of Special Olympics International and executive vice president of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, Shriver supports organizations that work on behalf of women and children, born and unborn.

Under Shriver’s leadership, the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development was established in 1962, and major centers for the study of medical ethics were developed at Harvard and Georgetown Universities.

When she founded Special Olympics International in 1968, 1,000 women and men with mental retardation from 26 states and Canada took part. Today, more than 1 million Special Olympics athletes participate.

As executive vice president of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, Shriver continues to support solution-oriented programs to eradicate discrimination and problems faced by the disenfranchised. The Kennedy Foundation says its mission “is to provide leadership in the field of mental retardation and services to persons with mental retardation, both those born and unborn, and their families.”

Shriver, recognizing the high rate of mental retardation among children born to teenage mothers, led the foundation’s efforts to develop an innovative program to address the causes of problems facing teenage women and their children. Called Community of Caring, the program focuses on “health and nutrition for the pregnant teen, preparation for childbirth, development of parental skills, and the importance of continuing in school and avoiding risk-taking behavior.” Parents and community volunteers act as a mentoring network for teenage mothers. Since its inception in 1986, more than 350 schools have adopted the Community of Caring program.