Ward, a researcher associated with the National Susan B.
Anthony Museum and House; and Tracy Thomas, a law professor.
Thomas cited three academic histories, including a history of abortion by James Mohr, who discussed what he called the doctrine of quickening, the belief that it was legally and morally permissible to terminate pregnancy prior to the perception of fetal movement.
Mohr said there was a surge in abortions after 1840 and that a study of abortion in New York City published in 1868 concluded that there was approximately one abortion there for every four live births.
Today, the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, we are featuring an essay Susan B. Women do not enjoy one privilege to-day beyond those possessed by their foremothers, which was not demanded by her before the present generation was born. In the light of the present, it seems natural that she should have made those first demands for women; but at the time it was done the act was far more revolutionary than was the Declaration of Independence by the colonial leaders.
Anthony wrote in 1902, called “Woman’s Half-Century of Evolution.” In it she discusses how women’s rights had evolved since Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and others, had held the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848—in a time when women weren’t often allowed to speak in public. There had been other rebellions against the rule of kings and nobles; men from time immemorial had been accustomed to protest against injustice; but for women to take such action was without a precedent and the most daring innovation in all history…
Thomas published a lengthy analysis of what she considered to be inaccuracies in that narrative, saying, "... Sound bites that have been excised from history are taken out of context to convey a meaning not originally intended." She quoted Annette Ravinsky, a former vice president of the FFL, as saying in published comments, "I really wish my former colleagues would stop twisting the words of dead people to make them mean something they don't ...
The early leaders of the women's movement were not against women controlling their bodies." She said "Organizations like the Susan B.
Dannenfelser said that while the pro-life cause was not "the issue that earned Susan B.
Anthony her stripes in American history books, historians would be wrong to conclude that Anthony was agnostic on the issue of abortion." She quoted Anthony's business partner, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as saying, "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." the FFL acknowledged the problem by saying that, "Earlier generations of pro-life feminists informed us that these words were written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in a letter tucked into Julia Ward Howe's diary on October 16, 1873," but that they could not locate the letter.