Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 'Hounded' with 'Intensity' by Sexist Anti-Abortion Conservatives

In the Sunday Times obituary for liberal Democrat and 1984 vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, Douglas Martin presented her as "hounded" by sexist anti-abortion conservatives who would metaphorically persecute her to death:

The abortion issue, magnified because she was Roman Catholic and a woman, plagued her campaign. Though she opposed the procedure personally, she said, others had the right to choose for themselves. Abortion opponents hounded her at almost every stop with an intensity seldom experienced by male politicians.

Writing in The Washington Post in September 1984, the columnist Mary McGrory quoted an unnamed Roman Catholic priest as saying, "When the nuns in the fifth grade told Geraldine she would have to die for her faith, she didn't know it would be this way."

For young people who may not remember, McGrory was a liberal and very partisan Democrat columnist. It's especially appalling the Times would still be quoting an anonymous priest suggesting Ferraro was being persecuted for her faith - when she was being questioned for utterly rejecting her church's teachings about the sanctity of unborn life. In the same obituary, Martin later noted Ferraro advocated for federal funding for abortions and suggested Ronald Reagan was not a "good Christian." So who was the persecutor?

(McGrory's September 18, 1984 column also presented Ferraro as battered: "But since that moment of delirium in San Francisco, she has become a battered woman, politically speaking - buffeted by bishops, who smite her for her position on abortion, beset by accountants who paw through her husband's ledgers and dogged by journalists panting after a Mafia connection that Italians are always suspected of.")

The Martin piece ended with this Ferraro quote:

"Throwing Ronald Reagan out of office at the height of his popularity, with inflation and interest rates down, the economy moving and the country at peace, would have required God on the ticket," Ms. Ferraro wrote, "and She was not available!"

Andrew Bair at found the sexist-hounding passage and took great exception to it:

There is no quantifiable way to justify that claim. Ferraro faced as much heat from pro-life advocates for her pro-abortion stance as any other political figure. Many of Ferraro's key political allies also faced public backlash for their pro-abortion positions, including Walter Mondale, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Accusations of sexism on the part of pro-life advocates are unfounded. Pro-life advocates rightly press candidates on right to life issues in every campaign. The gender of a particular candidate is not important when human lives are at stake.

In accusing pro-life advocates of sexism, the New York Times overlooks the fact that pro-life advocates voted en masse for Sarah Palin. If the pro-life movement were sexist, would they have voted overwhelmingly in 2008 for the ticket with the female VP candidate? It was the pro-abortion side that launched reprehensible sexist attacks on Palin during the 2008 campaign.

Just recently, the National Organization for Women (NOW) came under fire when it failed to adequately rebuke sexist remarks made by comedian Bill Maher regarding Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann. Palin said in response, "I need NOW like a fish needs a bicycle." The New York Times has yet to report on sexism on the part of abortion advocates like Maher and organizations that enable him like NOW.

Martin also tried unsuccessfully to claim Ferraro had great appeal to women voters in 1984:

She was also ideal for television: a down-to-earth, streaked-blond, peanut-butter-sandwich-making mother whose personal story resonated powerfully. Brought up by a single mother who had crocheted beads on wedding dresses to send her daughter to good schools, Ms. Ferraro had waited until her own children were school age before going to work in a Queens district attorney's office headed by a cousin.

In the 1984 race, many Americans found her breezy style refreshing. "What are you - crazy?" was a familiar expression.

A Newsweek poll, Martin wrote, found Mondale-Ferraro ahead 49 to 41 percent among women. A few paragraphs later, Martin at least noted how dependable Newsweek's pollsters were: at the polls, 55 percent of women preferred Reagan-Bush.