Through her attorney father, Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) was exposed to the concept of femme couverte early on. This common-law doctrine, which Stanton spent a lifetime combating, held that women merged with their husbands upon marriage and were thus stripped of civil rights. While Stanton herself married and raised seven children, she still found time to spearhead the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, draft the pro-suffrage Declaration of Sentiments (modeled after the Declaration of Independence), lead the National Woman Suffrage Association, co-edit The Revolution, and co-author (with Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Parker Pillsbury) the History of Woman Suffrage I-III, among other revolutionary works. Stanton defied mainstream Victorian notions of pregnancy as pathology, advancing it rather as a source of power; she refused to conceal her pregnancies and celebrated each child’s birth with flags and fanfare. She is thus known to many as the mother of the women’s movement.
[Regarding prostitution and the] “murder of children, either before or after birth …” “For a quarter of a century, sober, thinking women have warned this nation of these thick coming dangers, and pointed to the only remedy, the education and enfranchisement of women… We believe the cause of all these abuses lies in the degradation of woman.
– From The Revolution, February 5, 1868
“[T]here were four hundred murders annually produced by abortion [in one county] alone … there must be a remedy for such a crying evil as this. But where shall it least begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of women?
– From The Revolution, March 12, 1868