Washington D.C., Sep 7, 2016 / 02:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The passing of author, commentator and political activist Phyllis Schlafly prompted some pro-life advocates to remember her leadership across decades of political involvement.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said Schlafly “inspired millions to the fight against abortion.” “Phyllis is the reason the Republican Party is a pro-life party,” Hawkins said Sept. 5. “Phyllis will be missed yet her legacy will live on through my generation and in the young women who are fearless in the fight for the lives of the preborn and their mothers on their campuses and in their workplaces and communities.”
Schlafly, a Catholic, passed away at her St. Louis home on Monday at the age of 92. The Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis said it extended “prayerful condolences” to Schlafly’s family, saying that throughout her life she “displayed an ardent commitment to the teachings and defense of the Catholic faith and for which the Church is grateful.”
“We pray for repose of the soul of Mrs. Schlafly and for peace and consolation for her family during this difficult time,” the archdiocese said Sept. 7.
Schlafly was born in St. Louis on Aug. 15, 1924. She paid her way through college during World War II by working in an ordinance plant and test-firing machine guns, the Washington Post reports. After earning a master’s degree in political science from Radcliffe College in 1945, she worked at the Washington, D.C. organization that would become the American Enterprise Institute, then worked in St. Louis on a congressman’s reelection campaign and as a research director for local banks.
She married Fred Schlafly, a wealthy lawyer, in 1949 and became a volunteer and a political activist in the Republican Party. She is remembered for her role in ensuring that the Republican Party remained conservative on social issues during the 1960s and 70s.
Among her positions was researcher for U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, the anti-communist crusader. She authored or edited 20 books on topics like 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, national defense, and communism. She also attempted several runs for Congress.
Schlafly rose to prominence through her successful mobilization of opposition to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which appeared likely to be ratified in early 1972. She charged that the amendment’s strong prohibition of sex discrimination would lead to outcomes such as a constitutional right to abortion, drafting women into the military, mandatory co-ed bathrooms, gay marriage, and ending labor laws that protected women from dangerous workplaces.
The proposed amendment ultimately failed, with Schlafly’s campaign proving a decisive factor, according to analysts. Her organization went on to become known as the Eagle Forum and played a role in responding to the legalization of abortion across the U.S. in the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
The political activist often stressed her devotion to being a wife and a mother, and criticized some feminist causes as well as sex education. Schlafly and her husband in 1958 had founded the anti-communist Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, named for the famous Hungarian cardinal of the early Cold War era.
Schlafly was a backer of a strong military to counter the Soviet Union and was a leading critic of the U.S. bishops’ draft proposal that questioned U.S. nuclear weapons policy in the early 1980s, a time of global tension.
In March 2016, she drew attention for her endorsement of the controversial Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Her husband passed away in 1993 after 44 years of marriage. She is survived by six children, 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.