Kathryn Lopez

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has an old story that she likes to tell about her days as Speaker of the House: My chair was getting crowded, it begins. She was at her first White House meeting as the first woman Speaker when she found Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul and Sojourner Truth, among others, all sitting in her chair. I could hear them say: 'At last we have a seat at the table.' And then they were gone.

It's too bad Anthony wasn't able to stick around long enough to have a conversation about the trajectory of modern feminism and Pelosi's role as a leading advocate of legal abortion. Anthony and other suffragettes, after all, recognized the rights of the vulnerable unborn as clearly as they did their own rights as women.

At about the same time as there was buzz about Pelosi's sisterhood seance, President Obama was in Denver, being introduced by Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law activist who has become the poster gal for the controversial health-care mandate. Obama made the point, that this mandate is both equivalent to and at the core of women's health, but insisted that he had reached a reasonable compromise with Catholic schools and hospitals. The truth of the matter is quite different, however. Even the University of Notre Dame, which once honored Obama, is now suing him to protect its religious rights, and a former key ally, Sister Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association, is rejecting administration claims that an acceptable accommodation has been drawn up.

The primary women's health claim that is at the heart of this drive -- in which managing fertility has become a preventative service as part of Obamacare's regulatory scheme -- is one that would be foreign to the women who crowded Pelosi's chair.

Let's look at Charlotte Lozier, a 19-century physician whose life Chuck Donovan is currently honoring, having just established the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an educational outgrowth of the pro-life political group the Susan B. Anthony List.

Lozier secured a medical degree, against the staunch resistance of the scientific establishment of her day, served as a vice president of the National Working Women's Association, bore three children of her own, stood for women's suffrage alongside Susan B. Anthony and other contemporaries, and was profoundly pro-life, is how Donovan makes the introduction. Lozier viewed abortion as an assault on the healing profession and clearly did not see it as a pathway to women's equality or freedom, Donovan explains.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.