Sound familiar?

I’ve just finished writing a piece for this week’s Catholic Herald about the feminist and pro-life movements, which involved some research into the life and work of some of the pioneers of feminism in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Women who led the way in terms of securing equality of education, employment and opportunity.

I was particularly struck by the words of the relatively obscure Sarah F Norton –  public speaker, writer for feminist publications, and member of the Working Women’s Association who advocated for the education of women and girls and equal opportunity in the workplace and equal pay for women. We have very little detail other than her writings, but together with the better-known Susan B Anthony, they fought for the admission of women to Cornell University and as a result a year after her campaigning, in 1870, Cornell University became one of the first universities in the United States to admit women.

Writing in the feminist newspaper, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, Norton denounced the proliferation of advertisements for the “fast increasing crime of foeticide” . 

This passage will have particular resonance for anyone who takes issue with the ubiquitous nature of those blatant abortion post-conception advertisements, soon to filter in to our living rooms. Abortion advertising is clearly not just a twenty-first century phenomena or anomaly. Twas ever thus.

[C]hild-murder is an easy and every-day affair…. [C]hild murderers practice their profession without let or hinderance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned, establishing themselves with an impunity that is not allowed to the slaughterers of cattle…. Scores of persons advertise their willingness to commit this form of murder, and with unblushing effrontery announce their names and residences in the daily papers. No one seems to be shocked by the fact…. [C]irculars are distributed broadcast, recommending certain pills and potions for the very purpose, and by these means the names of these slayers of infants, and the methods by which they practice their life-destroying trade, have become “familiar in our mouths as household words.” …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.

It would seem that we still have a long way to go.

2 thoughts on “Sound familiar?

  1. Very interesting, but not entirely surprising even for the Victorian age. Some things don’t seem to change. Sex outside of marriage is definitely not a new phenomenon as is the desire to end unwanted pregnancies. The main difference these days is that it has become so socially acceptable to abort that the levels have rocketed and few people give it a second thought.

  2. This puts me in mind of the famous feminist slogan of the 1970s: “You’ve come a long way, baby!” Evidently not.

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