Abstract

Recent scholarship on the history of grassroots anti-abortion activism in the United States has emphasized the work of conservative evangelical activists who mobilized in the late 1980s. The lay Catholic women who organized and sustained the grassroots movement since the 1970s remain less well understood. This essay addresses the history of socially progressive—and feminist-identified—Catholic women who mobilized to fight abortion in the 1970s and 1980s. Drawing upon oral history interviews, organizational records, arrest dockets, and newspaper clippings, I argue that lay Catholic women initially welcomed evangelicals into the grassroots anti-abortion movement, but were unprepared for the patriarchal worldview that evangelicals would impose on the movement. Although they were ultimately pushed out of leadership positions, lay Catholic women’s influence on the character of abortion protest continued to flourish long after they had withdrawn from the movement. When progressive Catholic women left leadership posts, anti-abortion support for welfare programs, peace, and social justice waned.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 38-61
Launched on MUSE
2015-12-22
Open Access
No
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