Susan B. Anthony
She called abortion "child-murder." ( The Revolution 4 (1):4 July 8, 1869) "We want prevention, not merely punishment. We must reach the root of the evil...It is practiced by those whose innermost souls revolt from the dreadful dead." ( The Revolution 4 (1):4 July 8, 1869) "All the articles on this subject that I have read have been from men. They denounce women as alone guilty, and never include man in any plans for the remedy." ( The Revolution 4(5):4 February 5, 1868)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
She classed it with the killing of newborns as "infanticide. " (The Revolution 1 (5): 1 February 5, 1868) "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."
(Letter to Julia Ward Howe, October 16, 1871, recorded in Howe's diary at Harvard University Library):
"There must be a remedy even for such a crying evil as this. But where shall it be found, at least where begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of women?" ( The Revolution 1 (10): 146-7 March 12, 1868)
Stanton and Anthony's newspaper, The Revolution, and most other feminist publications of the last century, refused to join in the common practice of printing advertisements for thinly-disguised patent medicine abortifacients.
"[This] subject lies deeper down in woman's wrongs than any other...I hesitate not to assert that most of [the responsibility for] this crime lies at the door of the male sex " ( The Revolution 1 (14):215-6 April 6, 1868)
"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." ( The Revolution 3(9): 138-9 September 2, 1869)
The first woman to attempt to run for President was a strong opponent of abortion. Woodhull's and Claffin's Weekly proclaimed, "The rights of children as individuals begin while yet they remain in the foetus." (2(6):4 December 24, 1870)"Every woman knows that if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for-child, not think of murdering one before its birth. " (Wheeling, West Virginia Evening Standard, November 17, 1875)
"Child murderers practice their profession without let or hinderance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned...Is there no remedy for all this ante-natal child murder?...Perhaps there will come a time when...an unmarried mother will not be despised because of her motherhood...and when the right of the unborn to be born will not be denied or interfered with." ( Woodhull's and Claffin's Weekly, November 19, 1870)
"The custom of procuring abortions has reached such appalling proportions in America as to be beyond belief...So great is the misery of the working classes that seventeen abortions are committed in every one hundred pregnancies." ( Mother Earth, 1911)
The author of the original Equal Rights Amendment (1923) opposed the later trend linking it with abortion. A colleague recalls her expressing the opinion that "abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women."
As early as 1792, Mary Wollenstonecraft wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Women," which Susan B. Anthony admired enough to serialize in the Revolution . After decrying in scathing 18th century terms, the sexual exploitation of women, she says, "Women becoming, consequently, weaker...than they ought to be...have not sufficient strength to discharge the first duty of a mother; and sacrificing to lasciviousness the parental affection...either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast it off when born. Nature in every thing demands respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity. "
Note that these feminists did not oppose abortion because it was unsafe. Their argument was that abortion takes a human life, and ultimately hinders justice for women.
Permission granted to copy and distribute, FFL 1993