Barbara Hollingsworth: Pro-life women take political center stage

In 1869, being a feminist didn't automatically mean declaring war on unborn children. “When a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is a sign that, by education or circumstances, she has been greatly wronged,” said suffragette Susan B. Anthony.

The Susan B. Anthony List, an Alexandria-based political action committee named after this heroine of women's rights, spent nearly $2 million to keep federal funding of abortion out of the recently passed health care bill. When that attempt failed, the group then commenced a $215,000 independent expenditure campaign on behalf of its top priority candidate: California Republican Carly Fiorina, the only woman ever to run a Fortune 20 company.

Last Tuesday, Fiorina — whom SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser calls “the perfect pro-woman, pro-life contrast to Sen. Barbara Boxer” — won her primary, as did other pro-life women such as gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman in California and Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Senate candidate Sharron Angle in Nevada, and House candidate Kristi Noem in South Dakota. Dannenfelser called the results “an historic win for pro-life women candidates … the greatest affirmation of our mission in the history of the organization.”

In November, Fiorina will square off against Boxer, whom Dannenfelser describes as “the most aggressive champion of abortion rights in Congress.”

Thirty-seven years after Roe v. Wade, abortion is at the heart of the fury directed against former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who had the audacity to appear on stage at the Republican National Convention holding her Down Syndrome infant and who pointedly refers to the pro-life women she endorses as “mama grizzlies.”

The SBA List plans to spend $6 million more in the months before November's mid-term elections to support mama grizzlies and to punish “pro-life” Democrats who voted for Obamacare, which includes the greatest expansion of abortion since the 1973 Supreme Court decision.

Like their namesake, these grizzlies bite.

After Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich, personally promised Dannenfelser he would not cave in to White House pressure and then did just that, the SBA List immediately canceled an award it planned to present to the 10-term incumbent at its annual dinner at the Willard Hotel and then created the “Votes Have Consequences” campaign instead. “Democrats for Life helped write the language of the Stupak amendment,” she fumed to The Washington Examiner. “He voted against his own language.”

The SBA List takes credit for Stupak's decision to retire, as well as Rep. Alan Mollohan's loss in the West Virginia Democratic primary. “It was awful,” Dannenfelser said of targeting her former boss for defeat. “But we had to act. To do nothing would prove we were impotent.”

Up against Emily's List, which has sent $78 million in bundled campaign donations to pro-abortion candidates and helped elect 95 Democratic women to the Senate and House since 1985, the SBA List shouldn't have a chance.

But Dannenfelser's group has one major advantage: an unexpected surge of self-identified pro-life voters in every age category, which has been confirmed by three consecutive Gallup polls. The 23 percent majority pro-choice advocates enjoyed in 1995 is now gone, replaced by a 47-45 percent pro-life majority that Gallup analysts say is now the “new normal.” Pro-choice Democrats “could find themselves in a minority party in the next several years,” they predict.

Dannenfelser believes the marquee Fiorina/Boxer matchup will be the first real test of a growing popular consensus that abortion is not health care, which will also figure prominently in any future efforts to repeal Obamacare.

Rather, as mama grizzly Susan B. Anthony astutely observed more than a century ago, abortion is no cure for a societal problem that harms women. It's a symptom.

Barbara HollingsworthOp Edsop-edOpinion

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

SFUSD educators hit with layoff warning

Superintendent says district faces budget shortfall, depleted reserves

SF to provide $350K to help struggling nonprofit care for youth in crisis

City stopped sending clients to Edgewood Center after sexual abuse allegations emerged

CalTrans settles lawsuit over homeless sweeps on state property

Settlement requires agency to give warning before taking property and assist with retrieval

Plan to relocate Bayview charter school meets with resistance

School district wants to move KIPP elementary to vacant Treasure Island school site

Black like Bey

SFMOMA showcases photographer Dawoud Bey’s beautiful, sociopolitical images

Most Read