Eliza Bisbee Duffey

Eliza Bisbee Duffey

Eliza Bisbee Duffey was an American feminist and writer of the 19 th century. She published several books in defense of women rights.

She entered a controversy with physician Edward Clarke, who believed women should be educated separatedely from men at Universities, claming common education would be dangerous for the "mental and physical health of women", in her book "No Sex In Education; Or, An Equal Chance for Both Boys and Girls" (1874), were she argued for the equal and co-education of both genders.

Eliza Bisbee Duffey also authored books about women's health and physical and sexual education, "What Women Should Know" (1873) and "The Relations of the Sexes" (1876).

Like most feminists of her time, she also opposed firmly abortion as a crime. In "The Relations of the Sexes", she states that "The act of abortion which I had hitherto regarded as a trivial thing, at once became in my eyes the grossest misdemeanor—nay, the most aggravated crime. Being guided by this experience, I judge that this offence is perpetrated by women who are totally ignorant of the laws of their being. Consequently, the surest preventative against this crime will be a thorough teaching to women, even before marriage, of the physiology, hygiene, duties and obligations of maternity."

She also aknowledge the human nature of the unborn, in the same study : "From the moment of conception, the embryo is a living thing, leading a distinct, separate existence from the mother, though closely bound to her. From almost the earliest stage, the form of the future being is indicated, and it has separate heart-beats, distinctly perceptible through the intervening tissues of the mother’s body, which cover it. It is a human being to all intents and purposes. The period called quickening is a merely fictitious period, which does not indicate the first motion of the embryo. These first motions are not usually detected… until they have acquired considerable force."

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