Every time an American woman walks into her polling place, she ought to give thanks to Susan B. Anthony, who wrote the constitutional amendment that allows her to vote. Anthony herself was arrested and convicted for the right we take for granted—that women are entitled to participate in our democratic process. Her advocacy for women extended to our education and even our right to own property. (She was also an early supporter of the temperance movement. No one’s perfect.)
I’m certain Susan B. Anthony would be aghast if she knew that her name was being used by a group of anti-abortion extremists to drive an anti-women agenda and roll back the rights she fought so hard for. Anthony knew that caring for women’s health was an important part of protecting their rights, which is why she opposed the criminalization of abortion. Since abortion was illegal in the nineteenth century, she knew the stakes. Women still sought abortions back then, but it was like playing Russian roulette with your life. There were horrible complications, infections, and many women ended up sterile. The unlucky ones died of botched abortions.
The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) bears no resemblance to the legacy of the hero whose legacy has made all of our lives better. A new report from NARAL Pro-Choice America and American Bridge details the insidious goals of this so-called women’s organization. They make no bones about their plans: their president, Marjorie Dannenfelser says, “When we started about 20 years ago, you would not put the pro-life movement and the NRA in the same category…. That’s been my goal—to make this issue, which is so fundamental, have the strongest political arm they could possibly have. That’s the direction I see this heading in.”
They’ve got a big agenda: use the upcoming Virginia governor’s race as a “proving ground” to drive their anti-choice fundamentalism in a dozen states and in the thirty-three Senate races in 2014. We’ve seen how they support the most radical candidates running the most out of touch campaigns. When the rest of America—including the vast majority of Republicans—was denouncing Todd Akin for his mystifying comments that a woman couldn’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape,” the SBA List stood by him. Dannefelser called him “an excellent partner” and reaffirmed her organization’s support for his candidacy.
Richard Mourdock didn’t deny that rape could result in pregnancy, but he did say those pregnancies were “something God intended to happen,” and again SBA List stood by their man. They ran ads attacking his opponent, who now sits in the US Senate. Akin, of course, also lost.