Anniversary: Roe v. Wade
With Phyllis Schlafly
President, Eagle Forum and
Friday, Jan.. 18, 2002; 3 p.m. EST
On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Roe v. Wade, a challenge to a Texas statute that made it a crime to perform an abortion unless a woman's life was at stake. The Texas law was struck down and the court recognized for the first time that the constitutional right of privacy "is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy." That decision has come to be known as the case that legalized abortion.
Phyllis Schlafly, antiabortion activist, told washingtonpost.com, "Roe v. Wade was the worst decision in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court and is responsible for the killing of millions of unborn babies,"
Schlafly was online Friday, Jan. 18, at 3 p.m. EST, to discuss the landmark case and its effect on the nation.
Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since the publication of her best-selling 1964 book, "A Choice, Not An Echo." She has been a leader of the pro-family movement since 1972, when she started her national volunteer organization now called Eagle Forum. An articulate opponent of the radical feminist movement, she frequently appears in debate on college campuses. Her syndicated column appears in 100 newspapers, her radio commentaries are heard daily on 460 stations and her radio talk show on education ("Phyllis Schlafly Live") is heard weekly on 40 stations.
The transcript follows.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control
over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
Phyllis Schlafly: Hello. This is Phyllis Schlafly, sad about the anniversary of Roe v Wade, which legalized the killing of millions of unborn babies. Glad to take your questions.
What has changed regarding women and women's rights since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973?
Phyllis Schlafly: A lot has changed for women. We've lost so much in regard to marriage, family, respect for wives and mothers, the suffering from abortion and VD and divorce. The liberation movement that liberated women from home, husband, family and children has been a negative for women's happiness, rights and fulfullment.
Silicon Valley, Calif.:
Why does everyone describe Roe v. Wade in terms of trimesters, if
the practical effect of the decision was to legalize abortion
throughout the full 9 months?
Phyllis Schlafly: Good question. Every woman who has had a baby knows that nothing happens the night of the end of the first "trimester" and the morning of the second. Life is all one continuum. Justice Blackmun's decision was not grounded in the constitution, the law, prior decisions, science or medicine.
Thank you for your work and the joy you seem to have doing it. What can pro-life college women do to counter act feminists and their double standards?
Phyllis Schlafly: Pro-life college women can do so much. Feminism and political correctness are dominant on campuses. You need to set up an alternative. Bring pro-life and anti-feminist speakers to campus. Have an event on the anniversary of Roe v Wade. Stay away from women's studies courses. Join or organzize a pro-life group and make your presence known.
Women are always comparing themselves to men. Do you think women today have forgotten their unique gifts, especially the power of giving life?
Phyllis Schlafly: It's all in your attitude. The feminist attitude is wholly negative, i.e., that the world is in a big conspiracy against women, that God goofed in making us in two genders, that the government should try to remedy His mistake, that it is oppression of women that women get pregnant and that society expects mothers to care for their babies. Get a life. Rejoice that you can participate in the creation of human life. We are so fortunate to be women.
Dear Ms. Schlafly,
I was hoping you could explain how traveling the country, practicing law, not staying home and cooking for your husband doesn't make you a hypocrite? You had a fabulous, successful, fulfilling career at the same time you were pushing to discourage other women from making the same career decisions.
I don't understand how you can take advantage of the benefits from the feminist movement (such as the ability to go to law school) but actively work against it.
Phyllis Schlafly: Get your facts before you make charges. The law school I went to has been accepting women since 1890. I went to college by working the night shift in a manual labor job. I sold 3 million copies of a self-published book in 1964 before the feminist movement got started. I don't owe the feminist movement anything. I spent 25 years as a fulltime homemaker without any paid job or income. The wonderful thing about a woman's life is the length. After my children went off to college, I had time to lecture on college campuses.
What is your evidence that women's liberation has been a negative in women's lives?
Phyllis Schlafly: The high rates of divorce, illigitimacy, abortion, VD, broken families, and the bitterness evident in the writings and faces of most the feminists I debate. Most of them don't have husbands or children or both, and few of them have grandchildren, which are one of the greatest joys of life. I feel sorry for the feminists, and I feel sorry for men who are married to feminists.
Birds, Bee, and puppy dogs are all alive. What makes human different is that they have a higher level intellect than any other known living creature. However, in the first two trimesters fetuses' brains might function at a higher level than bees, but not birds or dogs. Even in the third trimester, fetuses don't come close to the family dog, so why give them any rights? To me even if you ignore the rights of the women not to be enslaved by society as a breeding farm, I not sure why any rights or protections would be extended to the fetuses that my family dog does not enjoy.
Phyllis Schlafly: Puppies are alive but they are not going to grow into boys or girls, as fetuses will. To pretend that the unborn baby is not human life is to try to contradict science and evidence. Look at the wonderful pictures that have been taken of babies in the first three months. Nobody can deny that they are really babies, and can't be puppies or any lower form of life.
Why should women be primarily responsible for raising children? Shouldn't men and women share child-raising responsibilities equally since they both shared equally in creating the child in the first place?
Phyllis Schlafly: Mothers and fathers are equally responsible, but that doesn't mean they have to do the same tasks. Life is more efficient when each does what he or she does best. One has to pay the rent and the grocery bills and one has to tend to the baby's daily needs. Experience shows that this is most efficient when the mother gives daily care and the father provides support. But you don't have to get my approval for a contrary arrangements; you just have to find a guy who wants to reverse the roles.
Phyllis Schafly: Since you say women's liberation has "liberated women from home husband and family", how has your 'liberating career' affected your "happiness, rights and fulfillment"?
Phyllis Schlafly: The only person's approval I had to get was my husband's, not yours. Yes, I've had a wonderful life, but my husband and children always knew that they came first. I spent 25 years as a fulltime homemaker.
Do we need a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution or is the Constitution sufficient to protect life from conception?
Phyllis Schlafly: We should restore legal protection to all human life at any stage of development, very young and keep respect for the very old. The problem is that Roe v Wade federalized the issue that should have been left in state jurisdiction. The best way would be if the supreme Court itself remedied its mistake by reversing Roe. Failing that, yes, we need a constitutional amendment. Meanwhile, we try to restore respect for life through every avenue we can.
Why is NOW so anti-family when some feminists have children?
Phyllis Schlafly: NOW is anti-family, and NOW's ideology is that it is evidence of discrimination against women that women have babies and society expects mothers to take care of them. NOW and the feminists are trying to change human nature, but they will not succeed.
I thought about you a few weeks ago when
reading an advice column in the Post. A
woman who had lived for years with a guy
and had THREE children by him wanted to
know how to maybe mention marriage to
him without sounding pushy, without
Phyllis Schlafly: Isn't she pathetic? This is a good example of how the feminist movement and the sexual liberation movement has harmed women. Wake up young women!! Maintain your virginity until the guy comes forth with a ring and a marriage proposal.
A few years ago I attended a debate between you and Sarah Weddington where you made two statements that have stuck with me since that day. In the same evening you stated that it is the responsibility of the government to protect the life of every unborn baby, but later, in response to a question about welfare, you stated that the government has no responsibility to support women who choose to have children they cannot afford. I have alway been curious how you can hold these two opinions, which seem in direct conflict with one another.
Phyllis Schlafly: They are not in conflict at all. We don't want to life in anarchy. We expect the government to keep people from killing each other. That's the main responsibility of government. But it is not government's job to feed and clothe us, or provide us with economic welfare. That's up to the individual.
I'm a 30 year-old man, a feminist, and married to a feminist woman -- we're both professionals and both look forward to starting a family. How does your perspective on feminism explain a couple like us?
Phyllis Schlafly: You don't have to get my approval for your arrangement.
Anybody can call herself a feminist and it may mean something different. When I use the term feminist I use it as it is used by the leading feminist spokesmen, they define it as supporting abortion, gay rights, and government daycare, among other matters. Questions may come up in your life that will tell whether your wife is a feminist in this sense: would she demand exclusive right to abort your baby? will she have babies? will she care for them if they are born?
Ma'am, that woman was spineless. Spinelessness is not feminism, quite the opposite.
And no, feminisim is not about tearing down men either.
Phyllis Schlafly: If you don't think feminism is about tearing down men, I can only conclude that you haven't read the books by the leading feminists. They are full of hatred of men and if everything that is manly and masculine. They are also full of social disdain for fulltime homemakers.
I say that if you don't agree with or believe in abortion, DON'T HAVE ONE, but don't you dare inflict your religious beliefs on me. I believe that life begins at BIRTH, or when a fetus can live independent of the mother. Otherwise, it's similar to a parasite (even though that is more negative than I intend) and doesn't have independent rights. Plus, if I CHOOSE not to have children, how dare you say that goes against society? I have a career, a life, and a good man who respects my right to do as I see fit.
Phyllis Schlafly: You can believe anything you want. But your beliefs can't change science. The unborn baby is human life, and science can tell at 3 days after conception whether it's a girl or a boy. And it's not a male or female puppy.
VD rates? You must be joking. VD rates are far lower now then they were in the days you'd like the country to return to, days in which millions of abortions were performed, of course.
Phyllis Schlafly: I saw an ad on national television this week in which a pretty young woman was advertising a drug which she said will "keep your Herpes attacks to 3 days instead of 5." Do you realize how many millions of young people must have Herpes for that ad to run on national TV? Of course, it's incurable.
Why do you feel another woman's body is your business? I am mystified by your attitudes.
Phyllis Schlafly: My concern is for the baby's body. It's not her body.
My goodness, how sanctimonious of you to feel sorry for me and my husband and our daughter and our feminist den of iniquity.
In your opinion, are we endangering our daughter's future by allowing her to spend her days with her delightful stay-at-home dad?
Phyllis Schlafly: Repeating again, you don't have to get my permission to be a stay-at-home dad.
But the feminists are vitriolic in their disdain of stay-at-home moms and have done all they can to make that role economically difficult or impossible and socially disdained.
What is the "evidence" that women are best suited for daily care of families while men are best suited for providing financially?
Phyllis Schlafly: All life's experience, plus the free choices of men and women.
"Everything that is manly and masculine" -- please define.
Phyllis Schlafly: The feminists have carried on a persistent war against the military to reduce the training, tests, and promotions to the level of what a woman can do. No wonder the Army gave up its slogan "Be all you can be." A lot of jobs in addition to the military require masculine attributes, such as firefighting and searching for Osama bin Laden. The death told of the NYC firefights at the WRC 9/11 tragedy was 343 men, 0 women. Tnank goodness we have some masculine men who can fight the bad guys of the world in our behalf.
Who were the women you looked up to? Are there any women role models that young women should look up to in today's society?
Phyllis Schlafly: Sure, Margaret Thatcher. There's a deafening silence coming from feminist quarters about her as a role model.
Herpes on national television:
Oh boy...I think that says it all. You are basing your argument about STD's on a paid advertisement you saw on national television. That's not about numbers, that's about drug companies wanting to make money. Because there are adverisements for arthritis medicines on national TV, does that mean more people have it now than they did before? Doubtful. It means the drug companies have found ways to help you through it and drug companies have money to make advertisements. And just fyi, herpes and other STD's didn't just suddenly appear on the scene since the whole feminist movement. They've been around for ages.
Phyllis Schlafly: Go check the CDC figures. VD rates are staggering.
How would you assess the current state of the nationwide public attitude toward this issue? Do you feel you are making progress or fighting a losing battle? Thank you.
Phyllis Schlafly: Unclear what issue you refer to,but assuming you mean abortion, all public opinion polls show that opinion is coming toward life and away from abortion. Check such pro-abortion survey sources as the New York Times and you can verify this.
Can you give examples of how any feminists you know of disdain mothers who stay at home to raise their children? Sure, I believe that no woman should be "expected" to be the one to have primary childrearing responsibility, and I bristle that men who take on this difficult job are considered so unusual. But I've never known any feminists who don't believe as I do, that women (and men) should be able to make whatever choices best suit their families.
Phyllis Schlafly: Yes, the way the feminist lobbyists went into state capitols all over the country and demanded the repeal of the laws (which used to exist in every state) that say that the husband must support his wife. Since getting rid of these laws doesn't help any woman who doesn't want a husband to support her, it can be nothing but envy and malice that impels them to try to repeal these laws. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a leading advocate of this mindless gender neutrality, and she wrote that the "husband-breadwinner, wife-homemaker" concept must be eliminated from the law.
How do you feel about human cloning?
Phyllis Schlafly: Human cloning should be prohibited by law.
By what evidence can you correlate STD rates with feminism? If the two correlated, why are AIDS infection rates so bad in Africa, South and SE Asia, and Central America?
Phyllis Schlafly: STD rates in the U.S. are the result of the sexual liberation movement. The feminist movement is a separate movement, but the two movements have worked in tandem in some respects.
Phyllis Schlafly: I've been told my time is up. Thanks for all the good questions. You can go to my website www.eagleforum.org for more thoughts. Aren't computers great?
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