by Maria Vitale Gallagher
February 16, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A leading women’s group says that feminist icon Betty Friedan left a mixed legacy for American women. Friedan, author of the landmark book The Feminine Mystique, died recently at the age of 85. She is credited with laying the groundwork for the modern feminist era, but also for strongly advocating abortion.
Serrin Foster, President of Feminists for Life, suggests that Friedan, the co-founder of the pro-abortion National Organization for Women, erred when she accepted abortion as a legal right.
“One can only imagine how the lives of 25 or 30 million American women would have been different if Friedan and her contemporaries had rejected abortion as a solution to the problems women face and instead told the NARAL founders, ‘Women have children. Get over it,’” Foster said.
Foster notes that life changed dramatically for women after Friedan challenged the limitations being placed on women’s roles. She says Friedan rightly deserves much of the credit for the ability of women to seek careers in professions previously open only to men.
Friedan was apparently not totally comfortable with abortion.
In order to overcome her objections, the founders of the pro-abortion group known as NARAL fabricated a figure for the number of women who had died from abortion. NARAL claimed the death toll was around 10,000 a year, but the real number was closer to 500 a year, according to Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a founder of NARAL who is now pro-life.
When Friedan accepted abortion, her landmark book was edited to include an epilogue promoting a “right to choose childbirth or abortion.”
“Friedan’s acceptance of the premise that women’s rights should come at the expense of our children was a far cry from our feminist foremothers like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton,” said Foster. For instance, Anthony believed that the solution to abortion would be found in addressing the root causes that lead women to abort.
Foster added, “Though her legacy is mixed, Betty Friedan’s work opened doors to women. This positive dimension should be remembered by all feminists. Feminists for Life will build on advancements for women in the workplace by pressing for more resources and support for pregnant women and parents, so women will not feel forced to choose.”
For a decade, Friedan lived as a suburban housewife and mother while writing freelance articles for magazines. In 1957, she sent a questionnaire to her former classmates at Smith College. She found that many of them were deeply dissatisfied with their lives. The findings formed the basis of her book, The Feminine Mystique.
While accepting legal abortion, Friedan consistently stated that the women’s movement had to remain in the mainstream and that the family should not be rejected.
Interestingly enough, Friedan received maternity leave to have her first child in 1949, but was fired and replaced by a man when she requested leave to have a second child five years later.
In her work The Second Stage, Friedan responded to criticism from some women that her first book trivialized domestic life. “Our failure was our blind spot about the family,” Friedan wrote.
Related web site:
Feminists for Life – https://www.feministsforlife.org