Saturday, July 9, 2011
Former First Lady Betty Ford Dead
Betty Ford died Friday at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. Her cause of death was not immediately clear.
Betty Ford (April 8, 1918 – July 8, 2011) was the wife of former United States President Gerald Ford and served as the First Lady of the United States from 1974 to 1977. As First Lady, Ford was active in social policy and shattered precedents as a politically active presidential wife.
Throughout her husband's term in office, she maintained high approval ratings despite opposition from some conservative Republicans who objected to her more moderate and liberal positions on social issues. Ford was noted for raising breast cancer awareness following her 1974 mastectomy and was a passionate supporter of, and activist for, the Equal Rights Amendment. Pro-choice on abortion and a leader in the Women's Movement, she gained fame as one of the most candid first ladies in history, commenting on every hot-button issue of the time, including feminism, equal pay, ERA, sex, drugs, abortion, and gun control. She also raised awareness of addiction when she announced her long-running battle with alcoholism in the 1970s.
Even President Barak Obama noted that throughout her long and active life, Elizabeth Anne Ford distinguished herself through her courage and compassion. As our nation's first lady, she was a powerful advocate for women's health and women's rights. After leaving the White House, Mrs. Ford helped reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired thousands to seek much-needed treatment. While her death is a cause for sadness, we know that organizations such as the Betty Ford Center will honor her legacy by giving countless Americans a new lease on life.