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Peace & Life Connections Special Memorial Issue
January 1, 2013

Special Memorial Issue:
Mary Krane Derr

        Mary was best known for her prodigious scholarship on the historical roots of feminist opposition to abortion, providing practically all of the research for the “Yesterday” section of her co-edited book: ProLife Feminism: Yesterday and Today.

(available in hardback and paperback from the print-on-demand publisher or from Amazon, and also on Kindle and Nook and other e-book formats.) 
        She served for a time on the Consistent Life Board of Directors and was still on our Advisory Board at the time of her sudden death on November 30, 2012. As a person with disabilities, she was also a tireless and effective advocate for that group’s rights, but we never imagined her health problems would result in such an untimely death. She was only 49 years old.

Feminists for Life

        Perhaps no one was more responsible than Mary for revealing our rich pro-life feminist history. . . . In 1998 Mary attended FFL's Pregnancy Resource Forum at her alma mater, the University of Chicago. She recalled her own pregnancy while she was a student and the pressure to abort. (Mary faced significant health issues.) By then Mary was a trained counselor herself. She told the Forum panelists that the best thing other counselors can do when telling a woman that she is pregnant is to let her take some time to absorb the news adding, "Once you are pregnant you are changed no matter what you choose. Counselors should ask the woman 'What would be the best outcome for you and your child?'--then help her achieve that dream." Her then ten-year-old daughter, Sarah, was at her side. I share that story at the close of every Pregnancy Resource Forum I moderate.
        We will honor Mary by continuing to share the pro-life feminist history that she so carefully researched for us to enjoy today. . . May she find the peace she consistently advocated for others.

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Prolife Alliance of Gays and Lesbians

        It is with a heavy heart that I must report the passing of one of PLAGAL's biggest supporters within the Pro-Life Movement. Mary Krane Derr passed away suddenly on November 30th and the news of her death is just now reaching most of us. Mary wrote the booklet Pro-life and Proud: Vignettes from Queer History for PLAGAL to pass out at pride events. . . . She was a major supporter of nontraditional prolifers and will be missed.

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See also:

All Our Lives blog (Mary co-founded this organization with Jen Roth)

LifeNews article

Stephen Zunes, Rachel MacNair, and Mary Krane Derr
at The Progressive magazine’s 100th Anniversary Conference.
Tabling there was quite an adventure,
and Mary went to sessions to bring up consistency points as well.
She specialized in effective dialog with pro-choice activists.
Quotations from Mary Krane Derr

From “Pro-Every Life, Pro-Nonviolent Choice”
ProLife Feminism: Yesterday and Today

        It’s been said that if men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. On the contrary: if men got pregnant, pregnancy would be treated as the sacrament; abortion would be considered blasphemy against their sacred bodies and lives and those of their children; and pregnant humans would finally, finally receive the alternatives they deserve instead of what one social activist calls, from bitter experience, the “choice” between “abortion or else.”

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From “Activism throughout the Centuries”
Chapter 13, Consistently Opposing Killing

        A woman-affirming CLE . . . is nothing entirely new. The ancient past holds some intriguing hints of such a CLE, even though today they are not always easy to read. History, after all, is written by the “victors.” In many times and places, aspirants to respect for all life have proved deeply challenging to entrenched social hierarchies, incurring every sort of negative reaction, from ridicule to execution and getting struck from the historical record.

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From “A Lost Source of Strength and Power:
The Long Feminist Tradition of Nonviolent Response to Crisis Pregnancy”
Chapter 1, Swimming against the Tide: Feminist Dissent on the Issue of Abortion

        The present-day war over abortion leaves the distinct impression that we may not affirm women's full personhood, especially their sexual well-being and their capacity as moral agents, without dismissing unborn children as clumps of insensate tissue. Nor may we affirm the right of unborn babies to live without trivializing the suffering that pregnancy can occasion in women’s lives or, worse, proclaiming that they deserve such suffering for their sexual “wickedness.”
        Like the purported “choice” between abortion and childbirth itself, this side-taking is forced by a (so-called) civilization stuck in violent “answers” to difficult, complex matters of social justice. It mutilates the intelligence and compassion of those who see no other way to deal with the abortion issue. Even worse, it leaves the root causes of abortion untouched.

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