R.I.P. Betty Ford: Champion of [Some] Women's Rights

Former First Lady Betty Ford died this week of natural causes, at the age of 93.  One can offer many tributes for this outspoken activist who gave voice to important causes such as breast cancer prevention (she had a mastectomy in 1974) and alcohol and drug addiction (she struggled with alcoholism and was a catalyst in advancing addiction treatment through the Betty Ford Center).

She was a dancer and a divorcee.  She was a prominent force in the Women’s Movement in the 1970s, joining forces with ’70s feminists including Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug and Eleanor Smeal.  And as wife of President Gerald Ford, she had a political platform which extended far beyond that enjoyed by any other female of the time.

History will remember Betty Ford as a devoted mother, a gentle woman who decried the use of physical punishment in the raising of children.  I remember the First Lady’s warmth and graciousness, evident in television interviews during and after the Ford presidency.  But juxtaposed against her tender love and compassion for her own children, a startling counterpoint, is her passionate support for abortion of other people’s children.

I’ve tried to understand how this kind and gentle woman could have so ignored the human rights of the unborn, and I can only conclude that for her (and for many who, for whatever reason, have not thought through the issue) there were two forces at play:

  1. She knew not what she was doing. Remember that Roe v. Wade was only made the law of the land in 1973; before that, abortion was illegal in all but a few states.  I recall that in those early years, the pro-life movement—stunned by the unexpected passage of massive pro-abortion legislation—was just gaining steam.  Pictures of aborted fetuses were not yet commonplace; I don’t think fetal pain studies had been published.  In fact, although some forward thinkers did understand and lobby against the taking of innocent human life, many of us just hadn’t heard the arguments and hadn’t formed our conscience on this newest societal issue.  I, as a young woman during those years, remember a female gynecologist asking me in a matter-of-fact sort of way, upon confirming my first pregnancy, “what I wanted to do.”  She meant, did I want to give birth or to abort?  Praise God Who, in His great mercy, spared me from choosing the latter.
  2. She saw injustice and sought to overcome it. While the pain of the fetus during, say, a dilation and curretage abortion was invisible to all but the abortionist himself, Ford could easily identify with the pain of women who, through no fault of their own, faced discrimination in the workplace and in society at large.  In the face of flagrant violations of women’s inherent rights and dignity, Betty supported the proposed Equal Rights Amendment and lobbied state legislatures to ratify the amendment.  She was unapologetically pro-abortion, believing that unwanted pregnancies ranked high among the causes of women’s marginalization in the world of business and civic affairs.  She didn’t see, and so didn’t consider, the tiny women who struggled as they were torn from their mothers’ wombs.

Betty Ford is gone, and in heaven she will doubtless meet many of the souls whose lives were extinguished because of social policies which she fostered.  If she didn’t understand that these were people back in 1970, she knows it now.

May God have mercy on her soul, and may He welcome her into the heavenly community where, with the angels and saints, she will forever praise the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Help Needed! Flood Closes Pregnancy Center

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,  Plans to give you a hope and a future.  –Jeremiah 29:11

Why do women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy choose abortion?

  • They feel they have no alternative, because they need to work.
  • Their boyfriends/husbands will not support them if they continue their pregnancy.
  • Their parents will be angry.
  • They fear the disapproval of people at their church.
  • They don’t understand that what is growing inside of them is really a small human being.
  • There is some problem in their life which makes raising a child seem simply impossible.
  • They fear that it would be too difficult to give a child up for adoption.

Chances are that you know someone who has had an abortion.  If she is willing to talk about it, chances are she’ll list one or more of these “excuses”—and she’ll say that she thought she had no other option. 

Problem pregnancy centers step in to help in so many ways!  They offer confidential, personalized peer counseling; assist with adoption, if that is the mother’s choice; help to find housing, maternity and infant clothing, as well as cribs and playpens and strollers; offer classes in parenting and in sexual integrity; help the mother to find full- or part-time employment; explain fetal development, perhaps utilizing an ultrasound to show the mother how her baby has grown; and help the mother to celebrate the life that is within her.

In Southfield, Michigan, MOTHER AND UNBORN BABY CARE is dedicated to stopping abortions by helping women to continue their pregnancies in a normal, healthy manner through peer counseling which is pro-life, persuasive, informative and honest, but sensitive to the emotional and material needs of the mother.  Since 1984, the Center’s trained staff and volunteers have had a positive impact in the community, saving lives with their message of hope.

But this week, MAUBC has had to close their doors.  The deluge that has continued unabated in southeastern Michigan resulted in a serious flooding of their first-floor offices—imperiling computers and office equipment, baby furniture and clothing, even the Center’s prized ultrasound machine.   Carpeting and flooring must be replaced; walls must be inspected and possibly replastered.  Electrical lines have been impacted.  The altar in the Center’s chapel, too, has been damaged. 

While all of this happens, the Center will remain closed for two weeks.  During that time, women who need help will have to go elsewhere—and we pray that they will not choose their neighborhood abortion clinic. 

If you are able to help—to make a generous one-time financial contribution, to help with carpentry or electrical work, to donate clothing or diapers, and especially, to join the cadre of pro-life friends whose regular support enables the Center to continue—I know you will be greatly blessed. 

I don’t know right now when the telephone will be working; but you can reach the Center by email at help@womenwhocare.com.  Checks can be sent to P.O. Box 3250, Southfield, MI 48037-3250.  Mother and Unborn Baby Care is a 501(c) 3 organization.

May God reward your generosity.

AIN’T I A WOMAN? Sojourner Truth, and the Liberation of America’s Smallest Women

On March 8, feminists observed the centenary of International Women’s Day—a day when we remember the struggles of women in the fight against gender discrimination, and celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

 I would like to dedicate this post to the smallest of women:  those who have not yet seen the light of day, but for whom Jesus also died.   These smallest women, still unborn, have been generated in the heart of God, and have been a part of His perfect plan from the moment of creation.

*     *     *     *     *

In the early 1960s, when the National Organization of Women was just gathering steam and abortion was still illegal in America, being a feminist was a good thing.  Those were the years when discrimination was real and often severe.  Letter carriers were called “mailmen,” police officers were “policemen,” because those government positions were not available to women.  Employment policies decreed that women could not hold certain management-level positions; that women would train men, who would then become their bosses, but that women could not be considered for advancement; that pregnant women would be required to resign by the seventh month of gestation.  Many women did not drive automobiles.  Few worked outside the home.

 But change was coming.  Gloria Steinem, founder of Ms. magazine, popularized the witticism “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”  New York’s Bella Abzug led the way for women into the halls of Congress and co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus.  “Equal pay for equal work” became the mantra of the1960s gender feminists.

 Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Eleanor Smeal and other prominent feminists in the ‘60s and early ‘70s decried the fact that a woman was only considered “valuable” to the extent that she was wanted by a man—either her father or her husband.  “No,” the feminists rightly exclaimed, “EVERY woman has an inherent dignity, regardless of her marital status.”

 The innate value of all women was a battle cry for the women’s movement at its offset.  How ironic, then—how unthinkable—that only a few years later they should abandon that line of reasoning for the convenience of the “women’s rights” movement, hitching their wagon to “a woman’s right to choose.” 

 For just as a woman is invaluable because she has been created by God, so, too, is the unborn child—the fetus or, before that, the embryo—precious, because God has crafted it in His likeness, has imbued it with life, has granted it a dignity which remains, regardless whether or not it was “chosen” and is desired by its mother.

 *     *     *     *     *

 One of the classic defenses of the value of the human person in America is a speech delivered in 1851 by a former slave, Sojourner Truth.  She was speaking at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, in 1851, as women were clamoring for equal rights. 

In honor of Sojourner Truth, and of all persons whom God has created, I reprint her remarks in their entirety.

AIN’T I A WOMAN?

By Sojourner Truth

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter.  I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon.  But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere.  Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place!  And ain’t I a woman?  Look at me!  Look at my arm!  I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me!  And ain’t I a woman?  I have borne thirteen children, and seen most sold off into slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me!  And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it?  [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey.  What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights?  If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

 Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ‘cause Christ wasn’t a woman!  Where did your Christ come from?  From God and a woman!  Man had nothing to do with Him.

 If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!  And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

 Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.