President Trump will posthumously pardon woman’s suffragist Susan B. Anthony, who was arrested in 1872 for voting in violation of laws allowing only men to vote. Anthony is one of many early feminist who spoke up for women’s rights, but, unlike feminists of today, she strenuously opposed abortion.
Trump made the announcement during the White House’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, which guaranteed women the right to vote, on Tuesday.
“She was guilty for voting, and we are going to be signing a full and complete pardon, and I think that’s really fantastic,” the president said. “She deserves it.”
“She got a pardon for a lot of other women,” he said. “And she didn’t put her name on the list.”
The pro-life group that bears her name, the Susan B. Anthony List, thanked Presdient Trump for issuing the pardon.
Thank you President Trump for signing a pardon for our namesake, Susan B. Anthony, for the “crime” of voting.
— Susan B. Anthony List (@SBAList) August 18, 2020
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted American women the right to vote and catapulted them out of the shadows of dependence into the full sunlight of long-awaited civic freedoms.
The first feminists felt keenly that abortion was not an act of liberation, but of coercion—not a triumph, but a tragic defeat. Abortion did not empower women, but degraded them, treating their fertility as a defect and their sons and daughters as disposable.
They also understood that abortion empowered unscrupulous men by absolving them from all responsibility in the sexual act.
The very basis of the equal rights movement was the inherent dignity of every human person. It makes perfect sense that such a movement should frown on abortion and infanticide, acts that end the life of a defenseless child.
“Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own,” Susan B. Anthony said, “has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.”
For example, a March 12, 1868 edition of “The Revolution” – which had Anthony as its proprietor and feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton as editor – ran an article titled, “Child Murder.” The report was about an alarming increase in the number of abortions and infanticides, both in the cities and in rural America.
“Dr. Oaks made the remark that, according to the best estimate he could make, there were four hundred murders annually produced by abortion in that [Maine] county alone. … There must be a remedy even for such a crying evil as this,” the article stated.
Pro-life writer Sarah Terzo reported more in 2015 about the feminist leader’s position:
What did Susan B. Anthony think about abortion? There is controversy. Anthony’s paper, “The Revolution,” published a number of editorials against abortion during its run from 1868 to 1872. According to the research of Mary Krane Derr, a lifelong member of Feminists for Life who wrote the book Pro-Life Feminism: Yesterday and Today, The Revolution refused to publish ads for abortifacients. In the late 1800s, pills and pessaries were sold by unscrupulous abortion practitioners through euphemistic ads, labeling these products as for “the remedy of illnesses peculiar to women, ” “restoration of female regularity” and “correction of menstrual suppression.”
This policy prohibiting advertising of abortion drugs almost certainly would not have gone through without Anthony’s approval, Cat Clark pointed out.
Some mainstream media outlets, including the BBC, also readily acknowledge that the early feminists were opposed to abortion.
Abortion activists have tried and, in some ways, succeeded in aligning themselves with the feminist movement. Recently, however, a number of young, pro-life feminists have been working hard to take the movement back to its roots by advocating for the lives of unborn women as well as the born.