7/13/2011 9:15 PM
photo source: lansingstatejournal
First ladies have always had a cause to support during their husband’s term as President. Michelle Obama is focusing on childhood obesity, Laura Bush supported literacy and Nancy Reagan had the famous “Just Say No!” campaign against drugs. While these ladies have had an impact on the country, it doesn’t come close to the legacy of the late former First Lady Betty Ford. Some historians believe her imprint on the country may be greater than that of her husband's.
Betty Ford was outspoken about a number of issues from the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion rights to drug addiction and breast cancer. Never once did she shy away from sharing her moderate to more liberal views that differed from President Ford’s and in doing so she made a real difference in the lives of American women.
She fully supported the failed Equal Rights Amendment that sought equal rights and equal pay for women. She spoke at rallies and called legislators in support of the movement.
In direct opposition to the Republican stance on abortion, Ford was vocal about her support of Roe v. Wade. If that wasn’t controversial enough, she stirred the pot a little more with her support of premarital sex. Then to raise a few more eyebrows she publically admitted to sharing a bed with her husband in an era where husbands and wives slept in separate beds.
Shortly after moving into the White House she discovered she had breast cancer. She willingly shared her mastectomy experience hoping it would spur others to seek early detection and treatment. In response, American women listened and flocked to their doctors for breast exams and she received over 50,000 cards from grateful women.
It was prescription for a pain killer that led to her addiction problems. Just like her bout with breast cancer she was honest with the public about her situation. Her struggle with the bottle and pill began in 1964 and lasted until 1978 when the family intervened. She talked about the loneliness of being the wife of a politician, which added to her addiction. Rather than being shamed by the situation she decided to get clean and open the famous Betty Ford Clinic to help others.
So as she is laid to rest, we can all reflect on a legacy that will impact us for years to come.
Posted by Ivan
7/13/2011 9:15 PM |