Thomas Glessner, March is Women’s History Month. The media has featured articles about many impressive women and their contributions to American history. However, it appears one thing is required before a woman can be honored. She must also be a supporter of so-called reproductive rights—code for abortion.
Today, celebrities brag about their abortions in the name of feminism. Actress Jameela Jamil claims her abortion was the “best decision” she ever made. Comedian Chelsea Handler says she is grateful for the two abortions she had at 16. Singer and songwriter Stevie Nicks credits the success of her band, Fleetwood Mac, to her 1979 abortion. These women are hailed by the media as feminist heroes for their bravery and pro-choice positions.
These modern-day feminists would have the pioneers of American feminism rolling over in their graves. Contrary to what some consider to be the politically correct ideology of today, the original feminist leaders defended the unborn.
Susan B. Anthony, a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, listed abortion among the negative consequences of “evils” perpetrated by men — citing it alongside murder and infanticide. Many other early feminist leaders opposed abortion, including Dr. Charlotte Lozier. She famously said, “… a person who asks a physician to commit the crime of antenatal infanticide can be no more considered his patient than one who asks him to poison his wife.”
Several unsung female leaders of today would make the suffragists proud for being champions of life: Dr. Mildred F. Jefferson, Anne O’Connor, and female leaders in pregnancy centers worldwide.
Dr. Mildred F. Jefferson
Dr. Mildred F. Jefferson was the first Black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School and the first woman to become a member of the Boston Surgical Society. Such credentials would undoubtedly pay off for anyone seeking wealth and notoriety. However, Dr. Jefferson walked a different path. She chose to stand for innocent, unborn life.
The foundation of Dr. Jefferson’s opposition to abortion was her commitment to the Hippocratic Oath, which bound her to the preservation of life. In 1970, Jefferson became a founder of Massachusetts Citizens for Life and later helped found the National Right to Life Committee. She was elected as chairman of its board in 1973, serving three terms as president from 1975 to 1978. In 1980, she co-authored the influential book “Whatever Happened to The Human Race.”
Jefferson’s unwavering support for the protection of unborn children is noted for changing Ronald Reagan’s position on the life issue. He wrote to her, “… You made it irrefutably clear that an abortion is the taking of a human life. I am grateful to you.”
As a brilliant female, Black, Harvard-educated surgeon and pro-life activist, Dr. Jefferson is an unsung hero. She is featured in the upcoming movie, “Roe v. Wade.” More people should give Mildred the recognition she richly deserves.
Anne O’Connor and NIFLA v. Becerra
Anne O’Connor is an accomplished attorney and a graduate of Loyola School of Law. Immediately after graduating, she committed to representing pro-life organizations and helping them to pursue their calling to save lives.
For the last 26 years, Ms. O’Connor has served as general counsel and Vice President of Legal Affairs for the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. NIFLA is a national nonprofit that provides legal counsel and training to nearly 1,600 pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics.
Ms. O’Connor served on the legal team in NIFLA v. Becerra. In this landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held California’s “Reproductive FACT Act” to be unconstitutional. The law mandated that centers promote state-funded abortions on the walls of their waiting areas. This was in direct conflict with their life-affirming mission. Dubbed one of the most important rulings “in generations,” O’Connor’s work protecting the free speech rights of pregnancy centers and all Americans deserves recognition.
Female Leaders in Pregnancy Centers Nationwide
The work of pro-life pregnancy centers nationwide is built on a pro-woman movement. These nonprofits provide a haven where mothers receive necessary support that empowers them to choose life. The network of more than 2,700 life-affirming agencies nationwide provides medical services to women such as ultrasound and STI testing and treatment. They provide referrals for ongoing care as well as material resources and professional services. According to a Charlotte Lozier report entitled “Pregnancy Centers Stand the Test of Time,” the network in 2019 provided $266,000,000 of services at no cost to the clients and patients. These critical community resources do not cost taxpayers one dime.
The majority of pregnancy centers are led by female CEOs and volunteers. Women like Raven Henson — once helped by a pregnancy center, now working to found a center of her own — are championing the cause of life across our nation. Their selfless work is truly the heart of America.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let us keep in mind that women are leaders in a movement that promotes life over death and hope over despair. They must be acknowledged and honored. Pro-life is definitely pro-woman.
Thomas Glessner, J.D., is president and founder of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, or NIFLA, a pro-life nonprofit that made history and headlines in the Supreme Court case NIFLA v. Becerra.