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Feminists for Life of America (FFL) is a non-sectarian, non-partisan, non-profit pro-life feminist organization established in 1972. The organization describes itself:
Feminists for Life maintains that being pro-life is compatible with feminism, and, further, that it is the natural conclusion of feminist values. Members and supporters of the organization claim that being a pro-life feminist "is not an oxymoron, it's redundant". The president of the group, Serrin Foster, describes the organization as opposed to all forms of abortion, including those in case of rape, incest, birth defects, or to preserve the mother's life or health, which is broadly defined in the Supreme Court's Doe v. Bolton decision.
Feminists for Life describes its broader vision: "FFL members oppose all forms of violence, including abortion, as they are inconsistent with the core feminist principles of justice, nonviolence and nondiscrimination." Basic human rights, including the right to life, extend from conception (understood as the first formation of a human zygote) until the end of natural life, according to FFL. Therefore, FFL is opposed to euthanasia, infanticide, and child abuse. FFL does not take an official stance on contraception.
Feminists for Life also seeks the traditional feminist goal of equality in the workplace.
- 1 History
- 2 March for Life
- 3 Feminists for Life of New York
- 4 Major Outreach Programs
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Feminists for Life was formed in 1972. The organization professes to "stand on more than two hundred years of pro-life feminist history", referring to Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Wollstonecraft, Alice Paul, and other early feminists who opposed abortion.
Feminists for Life was founded in Ohio in 1972. Goltz and Callaghan met in a judo club on the campus of Ohio State University, where Callaghan was a tenured professor of linguistics.
Goltz and Callaghan met many other pro-life feminists who were treated similarly by women's organizations during the Women's Liberation Movement's second wave of expulsions. The first wave of expulsions had occurred a few years prior, when lesbians were routinely expelled from NOW). In protest, Goltz and dozens of other pro-life feminists picketed the National NOW convention, hoping to draw attention to the controversy. The plan backfired when most media sources failed to pick up the story, and the few that did only mentioned that the pickets were by a pro-life group, failing to convey the full meaning of the protest.
The newsletter, Sisterlife, was first published during Goltz' tenure as national president. Originally the Feminists for Life Journal, the newsletter got its unique name from a letter to Goltz by a member of the Canadian chapter of Feminists for Life, who instead of closing her letter with the customary "In Sisterhood," wrote "In Sisterlife." Editors conferred the title on the newsletter, feeling that it reflected their dedication to life, from conception to natural death. In the early nineties, during the organization's overhaul to appeal to younger women, the newsletter was re-formatted and re-named The American Feminist. It is currently published quarterly as the organization's official journal.
Feminists for Life was active in the ten-year battle to ratify the ill-fated Equal Rights Amendment. The organization's commitment to the E.R.A. formed with the organization, during Goltz's presidency. Unlike Goltz, Callaghan was not immediately convinced of the need for the amendment, having achieved success as a professor at Ohio State University. In 1973, Goltz published an article (included in the anthology, Pro-Life Feminism: Yesterday and Today) disparaging the fact that the widespread fear of abortion on-demand had blocked the ratification of E.R.A. in Ohio at the time, and that it would eventually kill the amendment's ratification.
After five years as President of Feminists for Life, Goltz retired. In 1977, organizational management was moved to Wisconsin. The group's activities focused on being a presence at both pro-life and feminist events, distributing literature, and writing letters to various publications. A national workshop that became an annual conference for pro-life feminists was launched during this time. Many members supported both the Equal Rights Amendment and a Human Life Amendment as "complementary in their concern for human life."
Feminists for Life's work for the Equal Rights Amendment was met with a great deal of resistance, including harassment of pro-life feminists at pro-E.R.A. demonstrations, when Feminists for Life members attempted to distribute Pro-Life/Pro-E.R.A. tracts. In the late 1970s, Goltz spoke with the legendary suffragist Alice Paul, who authored the original Equal Rights Amendment. Paul conveyed to Goltz her belief that abortion was inconsistent with feminism, and that many of the founding mothers of feminism disapproved. She also related her fear that the increased attempts to link abortion to E.R.A. would prevent the amendment's ratification, and eventually end feminism as well.
In 1984, FFL's headquarters was moved to Kansas City, Missouri. Feminists for Life began to receive more national exposure during this time, through media interviews, involvement in a broad spectrum of pro-life issues, and invitations to speak at pro-life events.
In 1994, the organization relocated its national office to Washington, D.C., where Feminists for Life reorganized its structure, and updated its image: the Sisterlife newsletter was renamed as The American Feminist magazine, a website was created, and new outreach programs were developed, including the College Outreach Program. FFL also became more involved in political advocacy, working to ensure the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and enhanced enforcement for child support. Child exclusion provisions in the Welfare Reform Act were opposed by FFL.
At the 2002 March for Life, which observes the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, several members of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians were arrested for attempting to march under the PLAGAL banner, on the orders of Nellie Gray, holder of the permit for the march, Feminists for Life Executive Director Serrin Foster came out publicly in support of PLAGAL, saying she also had had similar run-ins with Gray in the past.
In mid-2005, the organization's building closed without warning, Feminists for Life moved their headquarters to Alexandria, Virginia. Feminists for Life's recent work has involved advocating laws protecting pregnant women from being coerced into an abortion, laws that provide pregnant and parenting students with services (most notably the Federal Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Services Act, which is presently under consideration in Congress), and monitoring cases of pregnancy discrimination.
On February 15, 2006, Susan B. Anthony's birthday, the first major Congressional discussions on the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Students Act began. On October 2, 2006 FFL President Serrin Foster announced the launch of a national web campaign to promote their pro-woman/pro-life message. The campaign includes a pro-life feminist response to the traditional pro-choice arguments for abortion.
- (Primary source: Rosemary Oelrich Bottcher, "The Conception and Life of FFL", The American Feminist vol. 9 no. 2, pp. 3-6.)
March for Life
Feminists for Life has been a participant in the annual March for Life commemorating the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade for many years. Their part of the procession is often joined by the non-traditional, non-sectarian pro-life groups such as Atheists for Life, and the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians.
Feminists for Life of New York
Major Outreach Programs
The American Feminist
Since its beginning, most issues approached by this newsletter have been thematic, with titles such as "Crimes Against Women Around the World," "Victory Over Violence," "Remarkable Pro-Life Women," "Our Pro-Woman, Pro-Life Legacy," "FFL On Campus: The Revolution Continues," and "Pro-Woman Answers to Pro-Choice Questions." 
Women Deserve Better Campaign
Feminists for Life's "Women Deserve Better" campaign was launched on the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. FFL describes it as "a long-term public education effort examining the failure of abortion. The campaign aims to refocus the nation on the reasons women feel pressured into abortion and to promote women-centered solutions" (smf.htm "Women Deserve Better than Abortion"). The basic message of the campaign, featured on ads, billboards, posters, and placards, is "Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion."
The "Women Deserve Better" and the "Refuse to Choose" slogans reflected what they saw is integrated aspects of their philosophy.
The major legislative goal of Feminists for Life's "Women Deserve Better" campaign has been the passage of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act by Congress. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Act was first introduced into Congress by Senator Elizabeth Dole on November 8, 2005, and by Congresswoman Melissa Hart on November 9, 2005. The first Capitol Hill briefing on the legislation took place on Susan B. Anthony's birthday, February 15, 2006.
In 2006, Feminists for Life President Serrin Foster announced a new Web-based campaign to educate the general public about pro-life feminism, with their slogan, "Women Deserve Better".
International Outreach Program
In 2004, Feminists for Life launched an International Outreach Program. In 2005, FFL was granted special consultative status as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations' Economic and Social Council.
Two-time Emmy Award winning actress Patricia Heaton is honorary chair of Feminists for Life. Heaton said she believes in "supporting people and stepping out and affirming that life is good," and she "wanted to find a group that had compassionate, intelligent, reasonable people who are fun and life-affirming" when she joined FFL. Heaton's activist motto is, "Women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy also deserve unplanned joy."
Actress Margaret Colin is honorary co-chair of Feminists for Life. In an address to a Congressional briefing on July 14, 2002, Colin said, "[Abortion] is violence against women. This is the failure of medicine to help and heal. We need to address the reasons that women seek abortions, to help them find the resources that are available to ease their situations, and coordinate the resources nationwide. Politically, women have always sought to address the root causes. This isn't news. The early American feminists, who fought for our right to vote, fought for the rights of pregnant women—-for society to change to accept them, not for them to change to be accepted by society.... remember the woman. Become her voice. And help us redirect this debate by focusing on solutions—-because women deserve better."
Both women's mothers were active in the early pro-life movement during the sixties and seventies. Heaton's mother was a Catholic political activist who, in addition to working to promote racial integration in their area, was also a staunch abortion opponent. Ms. Colin's mother helped found the New York State Right to Life Party, after the State of New York legalized abortion in 1970. Both celebrities credit their mothers' influence as part of their right-to-life stance (Ms. Heaton took the opportunity to publicly thank her late mother at the Emmy's for giving her a chance at life) and both women have spoken on behalf of Feminists for Life on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and in the national media.
Jane Sullivan Roberts, wife of U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, is counsel to the organization and a former Vice-President.  The controversy this engendered during Roberts' confirmation hearings, when his positions on abortion were challenged, led to great focus on the group; according FFL's president, "[w]e've had our share of media attention, but I've never seen anything like what is happening in the mainstream press right now" .
- Text of Doe v. Bolton from FindLaw.com
- O'Brien, Nancy, and Foster, Serrin, "Women's Groups March in Wrong Direction", The American Feminist, Summer 1995
- The American Feminist - volume 10, no. 1, page 4
- The Euthanasia/Abortion Connection
- Desperate Young Women Kill Their Newborn Babies: Fighting a Culture of Violence
- Child Abuse: Abortion and the Battered Child
- Feminists for Life, Frequently Asked Questions
- Equality in the Workplace
- The American Feminist vol. 12 no. 1, p. 5
- "Reflecting as FFL Celebrates Its Tenth Birthday" and "HLA and ERA—Inedible Alphabet Soup?" in Pro-Life Feminism: Different Voices, ISBN 0-919225-22-5, pp. 17 & 35
- George, Leah (April 12, 2006). "Close To A Saint". R News.
- Leibovich, Lori (August 7, 2006). "Suffragist's home bought by anti-choice group". salon.com.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act
- "New Voice for Women and Children at United Nations"
- The American Feminist vol. 7 no. 4, pp. 12-13
- The American Feminist vol. 12 no. 1, p. 4
- "Jane Sullivan Roberts' Service to Women". Feminists for Life.
- "Stalking the pro-life feminists".
- Feminism & Nonviolence Studies (not a publication of FFL, but some authors have contributed to both)
- "Suffragette City" by Emily Bazelon, Mother Jones Magazine Jan/Feb 2007
- Consistent Life (formerly Seamless Garment Network)
- Pat Goltz pro-life feminism page
- Homepage of Feminists for Life of New Zealand co-founder Daphne Clair de Jong
- The Feminist Sell-Out, Daphne Clair de Jong, New Zealand Listener
- Feminists for (Fetal) Life, Katha Pollitt, The Nation
- Who Are the Feminists for Life? In a word, dangerous., Lynn Harris, Nerve.com
- Nominee's Wife Is A Feminist After Her Own Heart, Hanna Rosin, Washington Post
- Pandagon.net series on Feminists for Life
- Abortion Foes See Validation For New Tactic, Robin Toner, New York Times