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Phyllis Schlafly, a powerful conservative voice for decades

Phyllis Schlafly, the driving force to putting the brakes on the Equal Rights Amendment, was a powerful conservative voice for seven decades. Six months before she died in 2016, Schlafly endorsed Donald Trump for president.

Beginning in the 1950s, she spoke out against international Communism. In the 1960s, she self-published a book titled A Choice Not an Echo, that reportedly sold 3 million copies. She wrote a total of 27 books, including: Who Killed the American Family, The Flipside of Feminism, and Feminist Fantasies.

Though she traveled the country speaking, ran an army of volunteers, wrote a monthly newsletter starting in 1967 considered one of the most effective direct mail campaigns in history, Schlafly championed her “housewife by choice” status. 

At the beginning of a speech or debate, the mother of six often thanked her husband for allowing her to be there. Fred Schlafly was a prominent lawyer and 15 years her senior.

The 1962 Supreme Court ruling prohibiting state-sponsored prayer in public schools sparked Phyllis Shlafly’s ire with growing cultural shifts to the left.

The staunch Roman Catholic was far more than an inflamed talking head. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Washington University in St. Louis at age 19. She earned a scholarship to study political science at Radcliffe where she received her master’s degree in nine months. (She later earned a law degree from Washington University in 1978.)  

After becoming a wife and mother in Illinois, she ran for Congress in 1952 at age 27 but lost. Four years later she became president of the Illinois federation of Republican Women and held the post until 1964. At the same time, she was a noted expert on military defense and wrote books on the topic with retired Navy admiral Chester Ward. 

When the ERA seemed sure to be adopted, she voiced serious concern that if men and women were completely equal, alimony could go away along with male and female bathrooms, and women would be drafted. 

The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe V. Wade ruling that restrictive state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional prompted more conservative followers for Schlafly and her fight to stop the ERA. 

As of now, she managed to do exactly that. 

Contact Katherine Snow Smith at Follow her on Twitter at @snowsmith.