In his column today, Ross Douthat argues that the anti-abortion movement is really quite enlightened -- very modern, very feminist. Douthat also says it's regrettable that we don't all consider the founder of the annual March for Life a giant of feminism:
IN 1942, ... the United States government established the Women's Army Corps, ... and welcomed our country's first female military recruits.But, well, Gray did, as Douthat acknowledges, spend her time making "strident attacks on 'feminist abortionists.'" How strident? Douthat doesn't say, but the answer is: this strident:
One of these pioneering women was a corporal from Big Spring, Tex., named Nellie Gray. After the war ended, Gray finished college (with an assist from the G.I. Bill) and moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked for decades at the State Department and the Department of Labor, earning a law degree at night from Georgetown University along the way. Then the social upheavals of the 1970s arrived, the soldier-turned-bureaucrat-turned-lawyer helped found one of America's most enduring mass movements, establishing an annual protest march that continues to the present day.
That protest is the March for Life, the annual rally against Roe v. Wade....
If she had chosen a different political cause, Gray's trajectory -- from soldier to working woman to professional activist -- would be a case study for students of second-wave feminism.
Speaking to the crowd in fiery tones, Ms. Gray predicted that the United States would hold the equivalent of Nuremburg trials for "feminist abortionists," calling support for a woman's right to choose "crimes against humanity."And she was serious about that Nuremberg stuff, as she noted in a 1994 interview with Mother Angelica of the Catholic news channel EWTN:
"Roe v. Wade has brutalized our country," she said. "The feminist abortionists, look at the evil they are doing. From that will come an accountability." Her words were met with strong applause, and more than a few supporters held high signs that compared abortions in the United States to "Hitler's Holocaust."
A student of the Nuremberg Trials that tried and sentenced to death Nazi leaders for their "crimes against humanity" during the war, Gray told Mother Angelica that the mass killing of the preborn in America "fits right into the principles of the Nuremberg Trials." She emphasized the serious individual responsibility of everyone to not be complicit in the killing as were many Germans who claimed all kinds of unacceptable excuses for their actions or inactions related to the killings that took place in the death camps and other atrocities committed by the Nazis during the war.Douthat says that pro-choicers have a distorted view of the anti-abortion movement because of "the idiot 'mansplaining' of amateur gynecologists like Todd Akin." But if Douthat is trying to build a case that the anti-abortion movement is generally modern and enlightened, it's odd that he chose Nellie Gray as an example of that enlightenment. She may not have believed that pregnancy after rape is impossible, but she held the same views on abortion as Akin ("We expect no exceptions whatsoever.... That means no rape, no incest, no life of the mother"). She opposed sex education for teenagers ("It is teaching them how to become fodder for the abortion industry"). And she was so determined to keep her movement "pure" that in 2002 she refused to let a gay anti-abortion group participate in the March for Life and urged police to arrest the marchers.
That's your enlightened heroine, Ross?