Most people don’t know this, but early feminists—including suffragette Susan B. Anthony—were deeply opposed to abortion. A surprisingly honest Saturday Night Live sketch from a couple of years ago captured the shock of a group of progressive young ladies, who when they meet Anthony are shocked to learn her less-than-progressive views on a woman’s so-called right to choose.
Even more, Anthony and other early feminists clearly stated why they opposed abortion. Besides calling it murder, they argued that abortion allows men to use women to satisfy their appetites, and then throw them aside. In an 1875 speech entitled “Social Purity,” Anthony put abortion alongside “breach of promise, divorce, adultery, bigamy, seduction, rape…wife murders…[and] infanticides” as evils perpetrated by men against women and children.
In an 1869 article in Anthony’s newspaper, an anonymous author (who most assume is Anthony herself), condemned abortion in no uncertain terms, laying it primarily at the feet of men: “No matter the motive,” she wrote, “[whether] love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!”
Times have changed. What was once a feminist argument against abortion has become a talking point for it. A recent editorial in the Huffington Post entitled “Access to Abortion Changes Cis Men’s Lives Too” makes exactly such a claim. For those who aren’t up-to-speed on gender-theory lingo, “Cis” is short for “Cisgender,” which just means non-trans and non-gay. Why that word even exists is another story.
In the HuffPo piece, Emma Gray argues that abortion is good for straight men, because it allows them to get rid of an unplanned child and get on with their educations and careers. She tells the stories of males (I cannot call them “men”) who say that “forced parenthood” would have been a disaster for them. She remarks how lucky they were to live in states where their girlfriends could just visit an abortion clinic, so they could dispose of the child and move on to more important things. As one pro-abortion journalist she approvingly quotes tweeted: “Behind millions of successful men is an abortion they don’t regret getting with their partner.”
Gray goes on: “…carrying an unintended pregnancy to term can mean giving up on professional and educational dreams. It can mean sacrificing financial stability. It can mean being tied to the wrong relationship forever….”
And then she quotes these fathers who—along with their partners—chose abortion over responsibility: “Access to abortion changed my life,” said one. Another said, “Anytime I am able to think about my career on a…normal trajectory and the fact that I was able to finish school…I can almost always tie it back to [the abortion].” “If your girlfriend breaks her leg,” said another, “you want to take her to the doctor instead of let it be a lingering issue that she has to deal with for the rest of her life.”
Wow. What a hero.
Apparently, for this man and the Huffington Post, a baby is like a broken bone, and abortion is the splint that can get unwilling parents’ lives back on track. Of course, the life of the innocent child killed in the name of convenience will never get back on track.
Susan B. Anthony and other early feminists decried abortion as a way for men to dodge responsibility. Today, abortion supporters see male irresponsibility as a positive good, no matter who dies in the process. By doing so, they’ve liberated men, but not women. They’ve enslaved women to male lusts, and given men a “get-out-of-jail-free” card.
What kind of a self-centered worldview puts a father’s dreams ahead of a child’s life? As Susan B. Anthony would have argued, it’s not a worldview that anybody who believes in women’s rights should ever embrace.
The Truth About Susan B. Anthony: Did One of America’s First Feminists Oppose Abortion? Cat Clark, The American Feminist, Spring 2007
Susan B. Anthony: Another Anti-Choice Fanatic, Greg Schleppenbach, Southern Nebraska Register, February 11, 2011
Marriage and Maternity, The Revolution, July 8, 1869
Access To Abortion Changes Cis Men’s Lives Too, Emma Gray, Huffington Post, June 12, 2019
Originally posted at Breakpoint.