Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

The Forgotten Heart Of Feminism

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published January 15, 2009

When I tell people I’m an ex-feminist, some look stricken, while others smile. Many go on to confide that they too are members of the same club.

I don’t know how big this club is, frankly, because the word “feminist” is so widely misunderstood.

Many people think a feminist is someone who believes women should have equal opportunities with men, and what’s wrong with that?

But, in fact, the term “feminist” comes with some very bleak baggage. And as Jan. 22 draws near, it’s time to tell it like it is.

Today feminism goes hand in hand with abortion, but it was not always so. Early feminists in the 1920s, like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, strove to get women the right to vote and to improve women’s overall stance in society.

But they would have been horrified to peer into the future and see the bloody agenda that later feminists adopted.

You see, the early suffragettes believed that abortion was a terrible crime, not just against children but mothers as well. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others never saw abortion as a solution to unwanted pregnancies.

On the contrary, they deplored abortion as a sign that society had failed women in desperate situations.

When a woman found herself abandoned and pregnant, the early feminists did not suggest that she end the pregnancy. Instead, they did what organizations like Birthright are doing today.

They worked hard to help women keep their babies, and instead of abortion, they offered the women emotional and financial support.

Since the legalization of abortion on Jan. 22, 1973, however, the desperate losers in the feminist revolution have been women and children. For one thing, about 40 million children in our country never had a chance to be born.

And for every tiny beating heart that was stopped in the womb, there are countless broken-hearted mothers who don’t go a day without regretting what they did.

On Jan. 22, the Catholic Church has declared a day of Mass, fasting and prayer to restore what once was unquestioned in our country: the right to life.

It seems blatantly obvious that everyone deserves the chance to live, but language is powerful, and contemporary secular feminists have mastered its use. Over time, they have linked abortion with the rather harmless-sounding word “choice.”

However, this unsettling belief that destruction of life is simply one choice among others clashes with everything the early feminists championed.

In fact, early feminists saw abortion for what it really is: a death, a tragedy and a moral nightmare.

Susan B. Anthony published a newspaper called Revolution, where she didn’t mince words about abortion, calling it “child murder” and “infanticide.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the mother of seven, deplored abortion because it turned the unborn child into a woman’s property, to be disposed of at will.

Women themselves, she said, had been treated as men’s property. So it made no sense for women to commit the same injustice against their children.

Turning people into property, of course, is the essence of slavery, and the early suffragettes also worked hard to overturn laws permitting this terrible injustice.

How ironic that today’s pro-abortion feminists dehumanize the baby in the womb, just as slave-owners once did to slaves. The baby is not seen as a human being who deserves a chance to live but instead becomes a mere clump of cells, a piece of property that a woman can destroy.

Fortunately, the legacy of the early, anti-abortion feminists is kept alive today by a group called Feminists for Life.

On its Web site (, you can read about Dorothy Day, born in 1897 and the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. In her younger years, Day had an abortion because her boyfriend wanted nothing to do with the child.

Years later, she had a major change of heart and converted to Catholicism. Day devoted the rest of her life to resisting war, the death penalty, racism, anti-Semitism—and abortion.

“We’re living in an age of genocide,” she wrote. “Not only war and the extermination of the Jews but the whole program of abortion.”

In my younger years, I believed that feminism was a benign movement encouraging women to pursue their dreams. Over time, however, I have discovered the tragic truth: There is one pursuit that today’s pro-abortion feminists roundly discourage women from embracing.

It is the very beautiful and thoroughly feminine desire to cherish and protect children.

Fortunately, there are many people who believe in a woman’s inherent, God-given dignity, which also is present in her unborn child. Like the early feminists, they are aware of a truth inscribed on the human heart:

The empowerment of women can never be linked to the deaths of children.

On Jan. 22, let’s pray that our society will once again embrace the values of the early suffragettes.

They dearly wanted women to attain their dreams but not by closing the door forever on the lives of babies. Instead, they wanted to welcome every child as God’s cherished dream for the future.

Lorraine Murray’s latest book is “Confessions of an Ex-Feminist.” The Murrays are parishioners at St. Thomas More in Decatur. Readers may write them at