"Iron Jawed Angels" is a notable story of a group of dynamic and passionate young women, led by Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and her friend Lucy Burns (Frances O'Connor), who put their lives on the line to fight for American women's right to vote.
The film begins as Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and Lucy Burns (Frances O'Connor) return to the United States from England where they have been actively involved in the suffrage movement. As the duo becomes more active within the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), they begin to realize that their ideas were much too radical for the established activists, particularly Carrie Chapman Catt (Anjelica Huston). Both women eventually leave NAWSA and create the National Woman's Party (NWP), a much more radical organization dedicated to the fight for women's rights.
Overtime, the tension between NWP and NAWSA increases because of the criticism of NAWSA leaders. NAWSA leaders actually criticize the tactics such as direct protesting of the wartime President and picketing directly outside the White House with their Silent Sentinels of the NWP leaders. Further, the arrests of many women intensify the relations between the American Government and NWP protesters. The arrested women are then sent to Occoquan Workhouse for 60-day terms where they face poor conditions. During this time Paul with other women undergo hunger strike during which prison authorities force feed them raw eggs and milk through tube. News of this bad and horrible treatment leaks to the media through the one of the husband of imprisoned women who had been able to lobby for a visit (the suffragists are depicted as otherwise unable to see visitors or lawyers). The media dubs these women ‘Iron Jawed Angels’. Pressure is put on the President Wilson as NAWSA seizes the opportunity to lobby tirelessly for the nineteenth amendment to the constitution.
Paul, Burns and all of the other women are eventually pardoned by the President Wilson. The Supreme Court rules that their arrests were, in fact, unconstitutional.