Phyllis Schlafly, 92, died Sept. 5 at her home in Ladue, Missouri, outside St. Louis. No cause of death was given, but she had been ill for some time.
A Catholic who gave birth to six children to her husband, John, Schlafly immersed herself for most of her adult life in a host of conservative causes, including stopping ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Schlafly also was involved with the abortion issue, having founded and chaired the National Republican Coalition for Life.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis said in a brief statement that Schlafly “displayed an ardent commitment to the teachings and defense of the Catholic faith and for which the church is grateful.”
“She served the Lord, her family, and her nation to the utmost,” said a Sept. 6 statement by American Life League president Judie Brown.
“Schlafly not only helped the Republican Party become pro-life in the 1980s, but spent the remainder of her life ensuring it remained so,” said Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs for the March for Life Education and Defense Fund.
The effort by Schlafly to change the conversation made her a lightning rod for controversy to her ideological opposition. It continued into her 80s, when her presence as a speaker in 2008 at Washington University in St. Louis, her alma mater, drew protesters.
The ERA was her first major victory. Her group, STOP ERA, later became the Eagle Forum.
Schlafly also went after the U.S. bishops’ proposed pastoral letter on women with the same vigor. In a 1988 interview with the Catholic Times, newspaper of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, she said that if sexism was a sin, as one draft declared, the bishops would have to acknowledge the church has exploited and oppressed women – and that notion was “ridiculous.”