What do the Founders of the Feminist Movement Say About Abortion?

From the very beginning, the leaders and founders of the feminist movement have been quite outspoken on the topic of abortion. Here’s what they had to say:

Dorothy Day

Perhaps one of the most well known feminist leaders, Dorothy Day, had an abortion herself. Feeling pressured from the father of the child, she reluctantly had the abortion.

Her next unplanned pregnancy, she instead chose life and said:

“I sat up in bed in the hospital and wrote an article for The New Masses about my child, wanting to share my joy with the world … a joy all women know no matter what their grief at poverty, unemployment, and class war…The account was reprinted all over the world in workers’ papers.”

Following the birth of her child, feeling empowered, Day went on to lead movements that opposed the death penalty, war, anti-black racism, anti-Semitism and abortion.

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


Elizabeth Blackwell

Blackwell was the first woman on the British medical register and the first woman to receive a medical degree from an American medical school. She graduated at the top of her class and later opened her own private practice also serving as a professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Women.

She wrote this about abortion in her diary:

“The gross perversion and destruction of motherhood by the abortionist filled me with indignation, and awakened active antagonism. That the honorable term “female physician” should be exclusively applied to those women who carried on this shocking trade seemed to me a horror. It was an utter degradation of what might and should become a noble position for women…I finally determined to do what I could do ‘to redeem the hells,’ and especially the one form of hell thus forced upon my notice.”


Susan B. Anthony

“Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own 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,” said Anthony. 

Susan B Anthony is another of perhaps the most well-known feminist leaders in history. She brought about incredible change, challenged laws and ways of thinking, and continuously served poor women to make their lives better.

She called abortion “child murder” and “infanticide.” She wrote against abortion in the women’s paper she published while calling for us to instead address the root causes of abortion such as women’s oppression, poverty, abuse, and a lack of education. She encouraged family planning and refused to accept paid ads for her paper that advertised for abortion inducing drugs.


Alice Paul

Alice Paul summarized her disdain for abortion in this statement:

“Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.”


Elizabeth Stanton

“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,” Stanton wrote in 1873 in a letter to Julia Ward Howe.

Our heroic feminist leaders recognized that pregnancy and motherhood is a nearly unexplainable joy and power of the woman – not something to suppress, hide or terminate. They flaunted their pregnancies and challenged their communities to embrace their pregnancies. They delighted in the challenge to raise a family and soak in the joy of motherhood while also attending Ivy League schools or leading movements against war, sexual abuse, and women’s suffrage.  They acknowledge that abortion was a side effect to a greater problem – not the fix to the problem. They committed their lives to solving the underlying problems that drove women to abortion: poverty, a lack of education or mis-education, abuse, and female oppression.

To read more about the 20+ feminist leaders’ advocacy against abortion visit: Feminists for Life here.