Phillys Schlafly, who died Monday at the age of 92, is remembered as a major force in the defeat of the 1970s Equal Rights Amendment and the rise of Reagan conservatism. She was also co-founder of the anti-communist Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation.
Schlafly founded the Eagle Forum in 1972 in the midst of the fight over the ERA. The amendment, which would have outlawed “gender discrimination,” was seen by conservatives as having had a “hidden agenda of tax-funded abortions and same-sex marriages.”
The Eagle Forum said on its website in a statement announcing Schlafly’s death that her “focus from her earliest days until her final ones was protecting the family, which she understood as the building block of life.”
“What I am defending is the real rights of women,” Schlafly said during the years-long debate over the ERA. “A woman should have the right to be in the home as a wife and mother.” She herself home-schooled her six children.
Schlafly contended that the U.S. Constitution already gives women “all the rights that men have,” and that the ERA would lead to mandatory military conscription for women.
The amendment never obtained approval from the necessary 38 state legislatures and finally died in 1982.
Schlafly was an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and the legalization of abortion, and helped put a pro-life plank in the Republican Party platform every election season since 1976.
She remained active almost until the time of her death Sept. 5, of cancer, endorsing Donald Trump for president in March. Just a day after her death, a book detailing her support for the real estate mogul, The Conservative Case for Trump, was released. Co-authored by Ed Martin and Brett Decker, it argues that Trump “could be the most conservative and successful [Republican candidate] since Ronald Reagan.”
Phyllis McAlpin Stewart was born in St. Louis on Aug. 15, 1924. She attended Catholic schools, including Academy of the Sacred Heart.
She earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1944 at Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree in government from Harvard in 1945. Later in life, she studied law at Washington University.
She was a co-founder in 1958 of the Mindszenty Foundation, named for Cardinal Josef Mindszenty, a prelate who had been imprisoned by communists in Hungary.