I have have been following Phyllis Schlflay, the Grande Dame of the American Right, since high school when I scored a free copy of her seminal A Choice Not an Echo, which I still have.
Schlflay’s importance in the creation of the current American Right, (including the transformation of the moderate-liberal Republican Party in today’s Party of Mean, cannot be understated. Her grassroots organizing, much via her female-dominated “pro-family” Eagle Forum (1972) has been a major influence and power in the development and entrenchment of rightwing policy and ideology in a wide range of areas including abortion, church-state relations, patents and copyrights, phonetics, same-sex relations, marriage and family, education, the UN, immigration, citizenship, healthcare, nuclear arms, and treaties.
I can’t say why, outside of the personal deficiency in political history common with liberals and progs, but younger social justice activists seem to be unfamiliar with Mrs, Schlafly even if she helped shape a good part of modern America’s political and social climate they oppose. A few days ago on the Alex Jones Show at the age of 90 Mrs, Schlflay kicked up more dust than so-called activists a quarter her age. (Her association with Alex Jones is a story I’d like to know more about. She’s too smart and savvy to buy into his scammery. Then, Naomi Klein and Greg Palast have been on the show, too. All ports in a storm.)
A little background
Mrs. Schlflay likes to promote herself as a stay-at-home dutiful housewife and mother. She was and is anything but:except in name only :
- BA (Phi Beta Kappa) Washington University, 1945
- MA Government, Radcliffe, 1946
- Researcher, American Enterprise Institute, 1946
- Founder Eagle Forum (1972)
- JD Washington University School of Law, 1978
- Anti-communist activist
- Anti-feminist organizer
- Campaign manager
- Political candidate
- Political organizer
- Republican Party leader
- Prolific writer, broadcaster, media maven
- Friend and adviser to presidents; politicians, legislators, clergy, policy wonks, and conservative activists
In the late 1970s Mrs. Schlflay almost single-handedly scuttled the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Framing her anti-campaign as STOP– Stop Taking Our Privileges. Mrs Schflaly argued that the ERA would disrupt gender roles , establish same-sex marriage, and take away legal rights/ protections that women currently enjoyed such as draft and combat exemption, (the draft was already a dead letter), alimony, and workplace “health and safety” restrictions. What I remember most about Mrs, Schlflay during her ERA period was her blovaitions on the public unisex bathrooms that would blanket the land with ERA passage. Instead of opposing male-facilitated and equipped American wars she supported US incursions into far away places with strange sounding names, but wanted to keep women out the gunfire. In the 35 years since the virtual demise of the ERA, most of Mrs Schllflay’s “consequences” have occurred without social disruption or ERA sanction. There is still no proliferation of unisex toilets which I doubt many mourn.
Mrs. Schflay and the Eagle Forum have for decades dropped the boom on abortion, but have remained relatively quiet on adoption except for being “fer it.” though queers need not apply.
Like the National Right to Life Committee and the ACLU, the Eagle Forum has no policy on adoptee rights and access to original birth certificates leaving such issues up to state organizations to act on (or not). From a phone discussion I had many years ago I had with Tennessee Eagle Forum Director Bobbie Patray, however, I got the impression that states sought the advice and approval from Mrs Schlflay before entering a non-policy area.
I’ve been aware of only two serious hands-on Eagle Forum incursions into AdoptionLand in the last 20 years, though there may be more. Both were on the state level
In the mid-1990s in an attempt to keep the the majority of Tennessee’s OBCs sealed, the Tennessee Eagle Forum joined the National Council for Adoption and rightwing notables including The Family Research Council and the American Life League as an amicus in Doe v Sundquist. In 2010 the South Dakota Eagle Forum swooped down at the last minute and killed a clean OBC access bill scaring the beejezus out of the avowedly abortion-averse legislature, swearing that South Dakota women would seek abortion in droves if adults could get their own birth certificates.
So, a butterfly could have knocked me over when a friend recently forwarded me a truly astounding Schlflay document: a copy of Mrs Schlflay’s February 17, 1977, CBS radio Spectrum commentary where the country’s Queen Bee of Family Values advocated baby selling be decriminalized or at least ignored by the law. She endorsed–actually pleaded–for an open blackmarket in babies. “What’s the harm in it?” she asked, adding that if she had not been blessed with her own six children she would have paid thousands to purchase one! Baby blackmarketing, she declared, is a “victimless crime.”
The document as you will see is in two parts, The first is a response from Gladys Levis to the broadcast and the second is the document itself on letterhead. (The documents came to me as a pdf in that order, and I can’t switch them.) Since the documents might be a little difficult to read, especially Levis’, I am posting a complete transcript of the Schflay broadcast and the relevant part of the Levis response, Levis, after discussing the broadcast, wanders into another subject not relevant to this blog. Republican Gladys Levis, btw, was Republican Phyllis Schlflay’s next-door neighbor and director of. ERA Madison County. You can read more about the remarkable Gladys Levis (later Allen) here.
I’m Phyllis Schlafly.
In recent months, there have been a number of arrests for the crime of selling babies. The very idea of paying for human beings sounds offensive to a civilized society, and police have moved energetically against the guilty parents and baby brokers.
I think its time to revise our thinking about this problem, but first let’s define it. We are not talking about either abandoning or abusing a child. Those are both crimes that should be severely punished.
The crime that needs to be re-evaluated is the case of parents who don’t want their baby, but do want the baby to be provided for in a good home with loving foster parents. Most of us can’t imagine a mother who doesn’t want her baby, but come to that conclusion because of the shame of illegitimacy, the tender age of the mother, immaturity, economic hardship, or the burdens of single parenthood.
On the other side of the scale, there are thousands of couples who, to their acute disappointment, are unable to have babies of their own. Adoption agencies have long waiting lists and can’t possibly satisfy the demand. On the blackmarket, many couples have paid $10,000 or more to get a baby. The price in New York City is reported as high as $35,000.
What’s so wrong about that? If I hadn’t been blessed with babies of my own, I would have been happy to have paid thousands of dollars for a baby. Where there is a willing seller and an eager buyer, and this baby moves from an unwanted environment into a home with loving adoptive parents,where’s the crime?
Adoption agencies argue that all adoptions should go through their hands in order to provide the best placement for each baby and confidentiality of the parties. I agree that is the better way, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that those who choose an alternative procedure should be sent to jail.
Much publicity was recently given to a young couple who allegedly sold their five-month baby for $80. The baby had been well taken care of, Although their motive for selling the baby is unclear, it would be ridiculous to send that pathetic couple to jail for a year, the prescribed punishment for that offense.
I suggest that the police spend all their available time protecting society against real criminals, instead of chasing after those whose actions result in transferring babies to better homes than they were born into. I there is such a thing as a victimless crime, this is it.
I’m Phyllis Schlafly
Gladys Levis response, July 9, 1977
If the social climate of opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment has not been adequately indicated by its acceptability by the Ku Klux Klan and the America Nazi Party, Phyllis Schlflay’s February 17 SPECTRUM broadcast advocating the sale of babies on the black market, should leave no doubts in anyone’s mind as to the capability for error such mentality accommodates. It would require someone much more naive than Mrs. Schaflay to be unaware of the devastating results of such immorality However, God works in mysterious ways and this may be the exact shock that has been needed to awaken those dreamers who complacently say “I like my life. I am not concerned with the Equal Rights Amendment:” or “I really don’t care to discuss it.” Will it be worth discussing when baby stealing quadruples when “baby farms” are established and young girls just disappear to staff them, or when individuals rationalize “How else can I get $35,000 in nine months?
Curiously, Mrs, Schlflay trashed the film Juno ( (I commented on it in Phyllis Schlflay v Diablo Cody:Juno is a feminist playbook) declaring that it abrogated men from family life. She questioned Juno’s maturity in following through with the “adoption plan” after the father pap splits.
The movie portrays the adoption as a good outcome, but it is not. The baby will grow up without a real or even a surrogate father, and Paulie, the father, is not asked to approve the adoption or to sign the adoption papers.
Some day the child will ask why he does not have a father. The truthful answer is that feminism has made fatherlessness acceptable in our society.
Juno does whatever she wants regardless of the consequences. That’s a sign of immaturity, not maturity.
Juno then sends a bad message about adoption. The blackmarket, according to the Schlflay playbook, a good one. Would Juno have shown the maturity Mrs Schlflay so longs for by selling her baby for $35,000 to a woman not blessed with her own children?
To my knowledge, Phyllis Schlafly is the only prominent politico in the United States today to ever endorse the blackmarket baby trade. What to make of it? Drunk broadcasting? A throwaway script written during the busy STOP campaign? Free market overload? Ignorance? Pure witlessness? Whatever it means, if the Eagle Forum in your state attempts to keep your OBCs sealed, pull up this script, print it , and use it,
Much thanks to Susan Grundberg
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On the upside, her approach might have led to bills of sale rather than amended birth certicates.