From its early beginnings, feminism was a young women’s movement. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, Charlotte Lozier and so many others began their suffragist work in their 20s. These women — the original feminists — understood that the rights of women cannot be built on the broken backs of unborn children. Anthony called abortion “child murder.” Paul, author of the original 1923 Equal Rights Amendment, said that “abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.”
So the pro-life movement hasn’t changed the meaning of feminism, as has been suggested. It was the neo-feminists of the 1960s and ’70s who asked women to prize abortion as the pathway to equality.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, along with a group of mostly Democratic women, started the Susan B. Anthony List in 1992, the so-called Year of the Woman, when numerous pro-choice women were elected to Congress. Dannenfelser, then in her mid-20s, saw a need to support more pro-life women running for elected office. Twenty years since the organization’s founding, we now have two pro-life women in the Senate, 17 in the House, four in governorships and hundreds more in state legislatures.
Pro-life feminism has captivated a new generation of young women who reject the illusion that to be pro-woman is to be pro-choice. Gallup polling showed that among 18-to-29-year-olds, there was a 5% increase in those labeling themselves “pro-life” between 2007–08 and 2009–10. The past few years have seen the emergence of young leaders like Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America, who is responsible for organizing more than 675 pro-life groups on college campuses across the nation, and Lila Rose of Live Action, whose undercover video work has forced the abortion industry to confront and amend practices it cannot defend, as well as dozens of other future leaders who have assisted our organization as staff members and interns. During the past two summers we’ve had young female leaders join the SBA List from Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of California, Berkeley. These passionate defenders of women and unborn children return to their campuses ready to lead pro-life groups and educate their classmates on the tragedy of abortion.
Not only does this young generation of pro-life women shun the notion that abortion somehow liberates women; it views abortion as the civil- and human-rights cause of our day.
Go here for the rest of Ms. Buchanan’s column.