We are sad to report that Anne Gaylor, the Principal Founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, died on June 14 at age 88. Anne founded FFRF in 1976 with her daughter, Annie Laurie; and a friend, Jon Sontarck; and was its president until 2004. FFRF has posted a great slideshow of her life on its website.
Her daughter explains:
The impetus for the group was our somehow becoming aware they were opening county board meetings with prayer. We went down to ask them to stop this unconstitutional practice, and thought we would sound more powerful if we called ourselves a group. So we made up a name–and the rest is history!
Among Anne’s accomplishments are the creation of the Women’s Medical Fund, the oldest continually serving abortion rights charity in the United States. She and the fund successfully sued the Wisconsin Attorney General in 1989 to remove the state’s name from an amicus brief asking that Roe v. Wade be overruled.
Her friend, attorney Anne Treseder, described a letter Anne Gaylor wrote about the connection between FFRF and abortion rights in her life:
She told me that after much soul-searching she had concluded that a woman’s right to reproductive freedom, and to basic civil rights, would never be realized as long as religious dogma played such a huge role in government policy. She said that she had decided to devote the next portion of her life to addressing this underlying problem.
Per her instructions, Anne’s tombstone will read “Feminist, Activist and Freethinker.”