March 25, 2009

Susan B. Anthony v. Seven Black-Robed Despots


"Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!"

(Susan B. Anthony, The Revolution, 4(1):4 July 8, 1869)


We know all too well Supreme Court Justice, William A. Blackmun, speaking for a seven-to-two majority in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, declined legal recognition of the unborn child’s personhood. It was not that seven black-robed despots were too stupid to realize the preborn child is a “person” according to the meaning of the term in the Fourteenth Amendment. The word “person” in the Fourteenth Amendment meant the same as the commonplace term, “human being”. Therefore, the Court’s spurious and dissembling decision remains impossible to justify. After all, even a corporation can gain the legal status of fictitious person.

The incredible degree of public ignorance about the life and personhood of the preborn child is largely the outcome of disinformation spread by pro-abortion organizations, especially Planned Parenthood. In addition, states already having liberalized abortion laws, such as New York, but chiefly the overriding unconstitutional federal cases Roe v. Wade with its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, promoted nationwide moral confusion about abortion. Laws that legalize abortion create moral confusion in the social body because the law is a teacher, and what these laws teach is disrespect the prenatal child's right-to-life. When society devalues the lives of the most innocent of human beings, by simple logical extension, all human life becomes devalued.

When some people come to the awareness that abortion takes the life of a child, a culture of legalized abortion will have desensitized their moral conscience so they will lack any reverence for human life. Their response, consequently, to the fact of abortion being murder, becomes an apathetic “So what?”

If we took a trip back in time to the late 19th century, we would see that Susan B. Anthony and the early feminists clearly understood abortion as taking the life of a child. The early feminists, in contrast to the false feminism of the 20th century and today, held the ethically correct view of abortion as ‘child murder’. The following quotes from early feminists reveal the moral courage displayed in their countercultural challenge to society’s inhumanity.

"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." (Elizabeth Caddy Stanton, Letter to Julia Ward Howe, October 16, 1873, recorded in Howe's diary at Harvard University Library)

I hesitate not to assert that most of the crime of ‘child murder,’ ‘abortion,’ ‘infanticide,’ lies at the door of the male sex.” (Matilda Gage, The Revolution, April 9, 1868)

To my certain knowledge this crime is not confined to those whose love of ease, amusement and fashionable life leads them to desire immunity from the cares of children: but is practiced by those whose inmost souls revolt from the dreadful deed…What then has driven these women to the desperation necessary to force them to commit such a deed? This question being answered, I believe we shall have such an insight into the matter as to be able to talk more clearly of a remedy.” (Susan B. Anthony, The Revolution, July 8, 1869)

The murder of the innocents goes on. Shame and crime darken the history of our whole land. Hence it was fitting that a true woman should protest with all the energy of her soul against this woeful crime.” (Paulina Wright Davis, The Revolution, January 20, 1870, eulogy to pro-life Dr. Charlotte Lozier)

Scores of persons advertise their willingness to commit this form of murder, and with unblushing effrontery announce their names…in the daily papers. No one seems to be shocked by the fact…the single fact that child murderers practice their profession without let of hindrance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned, establishing themselves with an impunity that is not allowed to the slaughterers of cattle, is, of itself, sufficient to prove that society makes a demand which they alone can supply.” (Sarah Norton, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, November 19, 1870)

We are aware that many women attempt to excuse themselves for procuring abortions, upon the ground that it is not murder. But the fact of resort to so weak an argument only shows the more palpably that they fully realize the enormity of the crime. Is it not equally destroying the would-be future oak, to crush the sprout before it pushes its head above the sod, as it is to cut down the sapling, or cut down the tree? Is it not equally to destroy life, to crush it in its very germ, and to take it when the germ has evolved to any given point in its line of development?” (Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, June 20, 1874)

These self-same servants form the greater proportion of the unmarried who patronize such dens as that in Chatham Street. They…learn from the common gossip in the house…that child-murder is an easy and every-day affair. The pernicious effect of all this is to make the seduction of the unmarried an easy matter, and murder an accepted contingency.” (Sarah Norton, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, November 19, 1870)

"When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong in society - so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged." (Mattie Brinkerhoff, The Revolution, 4(9):138-9 September 2, 1869)

Imagine for a moment what the event would have been like if a time machine transported Susan B. Anthony and friends forward to the year 1973 to debate seven black-robed despots on the personhood of the unborn.

Back to the real world: it is well past time for more Americans to emulate the pro-life efforts of the early feminists, find the moral energy to provide aid to pregnant mothers in desperation, and protect the lives of prenatal children. What greater work is there than saving the life of a child?


(For more information about pro-life feminism, visit the Feminists for Life website

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