by Maria Vitale
LifeNews.com Editorial Columnist
March 3, 2008
LifeNews.com Note: Maria Vitale is Education Director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and a LifeNews.com Opinion Columnist. Vitale has written and reported for various broadcast and print media outlets, including National Public Radio, CBS Radio, and AP Radio.
When I was a little girl, I was determined to read every good fiction book in the children’s section of the Bexley Public Library in Bexley, Ohio. After I had whizzed through my teacher’s list of selections, I’d ask the librarian what she would recommend I read.
Ironically, I don’t remember many of those tomes–but I do recall reading a biography of early feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. After I read her life story, she became a heroine to me.
Stanton was dedicated to the cause of women’s rights and, as the granddaughter of a suffragette, I liked that idea. But in adulthood, I discovered that Stanton was equally dedicated to the cause of unborn women’s rights.
According to the organization known as Feminists for Life, she opposed both abortion and infanticide, a position noted in The Revolution, the newspaper published by Stanton and the legendary Susan B. Anthony. When her seventh child was born, Stanton celebrated her motherhood by hoisting a flag in front of her home, indicating that she was as overjoyed with her seventh as she had been with her first.
Stanton secured a place in the history books by organizing the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848, but she was equally proud of her accomplishments as a mother.
In a letter announcing the birth of her daughter Harriet, Stanton wrote, "I am at length the happy mother of a daughter. Rejoice with me all womankind for lo! A champion of thy cause is born."
According to The American Feminist, a publication of Feminists for Life, in 1873 Stanton wrote a letter to Julia Ward Howe, the woman who gave us Mother’s Day. In that letter, Stanton stated, "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."
As this quote clearly indicates, Stanton did not view abortion as empowering to women, but rather, a sign of society failing women, an indication of deep disrespect of women and of their fertility.
Throughout her inspiring life, Stanton was both ardently pro-woman and passionately pro-life. She did not believe that women’s success in society should come at the expense of their unborn children. For Stanton, the struggle for equality did not necessitate the slaughter of innocent babies in the womb.
March marks Women’s History Month — a perfect time for remembering the life and legacy of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. If you’re the parent of a young woman, make sure she’s aware of Stanton and her stand on life. It’s important for the next generation of female pro-life leaders to know whose shoulders they are standing on.