FFL OPPOSES the ERA As Rewritten

Read FFL President Serrin M. Foster’s op-ed in the Washington Examiner! See below.

Also, be sure to read Serrin’s interview with Sue Ellen Browder in the National Catholic Register.

UPDATE: The ERA has passed the House. The Senate has yet to take action.

February 6, 2020

Feminists for Life of America Opposes the Equal Rights Amendment: The ERA would enshrine abortion through nine months, even birth.

The co-founders of Feminists for Life of America, founded in 1972, did not know at the time that we were not the original feminists for life. The suffrage organizer Alice Paul, who successfully led the movement to achieve the 19th Amendment, was an elderly woman when she told our co-founder Pat Goltz that the first wave feminists also opposed abortion. That prompted FFL researchers to first research and reveal documentation, which we have widely shared with the pro-life and feminist movements.

One of our historians, the late Mary Krane Derr, who was commissioned to lead that effort, documented the conversation between Alice Paul and her long-time friend, Evelyn K. Samras Judge, in the 1960s in letters to Derr in 1989. According to Judge, Alice Paul asked, “How can one protect and help women by killing them as babies?” and declared, “Abortion is the ultimate in the exploitation of women.”

Alice Paul is also well-known as the co-author of the original Equal Rights Amendment.

In “Beyond the Schism,” an issue of FFL’s magazine, The American Feminist, author Sue Ellen Browder documented that according to the board minutes from the second meeting of the National Organization for Women, only 57 women remaining voted to support the ERA, but also voted to support abortion. This occurred after pro-life feminists realized the meeting had been hijacked, and most left the room in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C.

Alice Paul, who arrived at the meeting late in the night, later expressed her deep regret to FFL co-founder Pat Goltz that the ERA had been linked to abortion, saying it destroyed her lifelong work.

The ERA as rewritten in 1972 denies the right to life of the next generation and does nothing to advance the unmet needs of women at highest risk of abortion, including the poorest among us, women of color, women working to achieve their post-secondary degrees, and working women.

Furthermore, the ERA would enshrine abortion in our Constitution for all nine months — even during the birth of a child — and could force taxpayers, including Feminists for Life, to pay for abortions. As a nonsectarian and nonpartisan group, as feminists who believe in peace, nonviolence, and justice for all, we are conscientious objectors. Abortion is a betrayal of feminism. 

As Feminists for Life, we refuse to choose between women and our children — born and unborn. Instead, we focus on addressing the root causes that drive women to abortion, primarily a lack of resources and support that women need and deserve.

This year is the 2020 Centennial Celebration of the 19th Amendment led, without known exception, by pro-life women during a 72-year-long struggle. It was also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. The suffrage leader, whose 200th birthday we celebrate this February 15, was one of many publishers whose editorials opposed abortion, along with Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to be nominated for President of the United States.

Like Alice Paul and so many other pro-life feminists who came before us, we oppose abortion and can therefore not support the Equal Rights Amendment as written.

Perhaps this is the best explanation of the lapse to embrace the ERA, the time period for ratification which now has long expired.

Because women deserve better,

Serrin M. Foster
Feminists for Life of America