Merle Hoffman on the Front Lines of the Feminist Fight

Monday, January 30, 2012

Merle Hoffman talks about her career as a crusader for women's right to choose. Her memoir Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Ally to the Board Room chronicles her experiences on the front lines of the feminist movement and in the battle for choice.


Merle Hoffman

Comments [24]

John A.

'No time in American history has everyone been equal and treated justly and everything was peachy keen for all.'
If that sentence is applied to second and third trimester life termination then things could be seen to pretty unpeachy indeed, for those lives that would have been viable.

Jan. 30 2012 04:11 PM
PopeJon from Ridge, NY

John A. - My point is some people try to paint a picture that before legal abortion, everything was roses. Now after its legal, society has gone down hill. It's just not that simple and never has been. No time in American history has everyone been equal and treated justly and everything was peachy keen for all. So lets not pretend such a time ever existed.

Jan. 30 2012 01:53 PM
John A.

PopeJon, Purer.
If you go whole hog on moral relativism then everything can become OK, including "Greed is Good" which did happen. Perfection doesn't happen, but still its valuable to society to push in that direction.

Jan. 30 2012 01:32 PM
PopeJon from Ridge, NY

I find interesting that some feel before abortion became legal, family values in America were some how pure. As if you walked down any street and there was no divorce, there was no child abuse, there was no drug and alcohol abuse, everyone had a job and could afford to have 6 kids, birth control was widely acceptable/available everywhere, everyone had sex education, everyone waited until they were married and ready to have kids and nobody ever had an abortion.... Nice thought, but no such place has ever existed anywhere in the history of man....

Jan. 30 2012 01:18 PM
Joe from Monterey, CA

Ms. Hoffman points out that her opponents (Evangelicals, Catholics, who she refers to as "these people") have a philosophy that can't be reasoned with. She doesn't acknowledge that she also takes a philosophical perspective, and that this puts her in the same position as her opponents. In fact, her rhetoric is just as unreasoned as that of many who disagree with her, and it's only because she firmly believes in her cause that she sees it as more reasonable (which is precisely her argument against her opposition). Catholics have their dogmas, but we have to admit, so do liberal feminists. Unfortunately, I find that her arguments and views don't contribute much to the conversation, and that this issue is fundamentally a religious and philosophical one. All that said, even coming from a Christian perspective (albeit a nuanced one that most Catholics and Evangelicals would not share) I still believe in and support women's rights and civil rights for same sex couples. While I might or might not make the same decisions for myself, I don't believe in impinging on others' freedoms. Since we live in a democratic society though, public opinion can and will influence government, and we'll always be battling these issues as long as there are sides to take.

Jan. 30 2012 01:12 PM
Jacob from Queens, NY

For a country that values family so much, why do so many children, predominantly poor children, suffer abuse, go hungry, or grow up in foster care? So much more could be done to protect and provide for them. Most of the conservatives I know are popping out kid after kid when they have the means to adopt the children who desperately need loving homes. It's typical of the so-called pro-life movement to do one thing and say another. PopeJon is right, the fetus is very much cared for until it's born.

Jan. 30 2012 01:10 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Maybe "galoshes" as slang for condoms in Russian is just a bad translation of US English "rubbers."

Jan. 30 2012 01:04 PM

I can't help but to notice that the anti-choice voices here are the most angry, fanatical--forgetting that woman have died horrific deaths from botched secret abortions and would again were Roe v Wade be overturned (which it never, ever will). I guess it all goes with the territory of Republicans, the Religious Right, Romney/Gingrich etc., essentially: a dysfunctional, angry, and at times even irrational (and large) wedge of American society.

Jan. 30 2012 01:03 PM
The Truth from Becky

It is not a perfect world, ALL situations and circumstances exist. There are people in some messed up situations just outside of the "abstinence", "adoption" bubble.

Jan. 30 2012 01:03 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Obviously I meant "reproductive" rights...

Jan. 30 2012 12:58 PM
hastings from manhattan

Our church - Judson Memorial - and minister Howard Moody helped facilitate the Clergy Consultation Service, helping women find safe places to terminate pregnancies before Roe v Wade when it was illegal to do so. It was staffed by ministers and rabbis all over the country. Not all people of faith are anti-choice, and we take that position from a religious conviction. Thank you for this interview - Merle Hoffman is an amazing and courageous woman.

Jan. 30 2012 12:57 PM
John A.

Cheapest birth control ever is to teach and reinforce socially the value of a child. Yes, destructive value to the unwed, untaught and unprepared, quite the gift to a young married couple. (So, teach children to wait.) I acknowledge that this, bestowing magic to a mother with her unborn, believing this, is at a low point with society today. Did legalizing abortion kill that thinking? It Can be argued.

Jan. 30 2012 12:57 PM
The Truth from Becky

Adoption is a choice, but that is the point it is a CHOICE albeit a more acceptable choice for some, because it meshes better with their religious doctrine.

Jan. 30 2012 12:56 PM
Kevin W Thorbourne from Brooklyn, New York

Some say Roe v. Wade is bad law like Dred Scott. In my view, the only thing that Dred Scott and Roe have in common is that those who are pro-choose have no rights that a pro-lifer is bound to respect.

Jan. 30 2012 12:55 PM
Greg from Spuyten-Duyvil, Bronx NY

speaking as a male Feminist, Merle you are heroic and level-headed. Thank you for your work past, present and future and thank you Leonard, for featuring such fascinating guests.

Jan. 30 2012 12:55 PM
Philip Greenberg from brooklyn

when will the anti abortionist start a campaign for adoption -
you cant say no abortions and not care about the life of a child

Jan. 30 2012 12:53 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Please ask the guest about the productive rights of men. It is never mentioned.... Or does she not believe that men have any say in whether to become a father or not?

Because if a woman chooses to carry the child to birth, the man is then responsible for child support for decades....based on the woman's decision.

Without arguing the morale right or wrong about abortion itself, why is the argument that a woman has the right to decide the effect of having a child on the rest of her life, but that question is never mentioned when it comes to men?

Jan. 30 2012 12:53 PM
Kate Perry from Boerum Hill

Thank you for your work and for your courage in this fight
Tell us what we can do to fund the the fight to keep
abortions legal throughout the United States
I am a member of Planned Parenthood. I would like to know
other ways to help.

Jan. 30 2012 12:52 PM
PopeJon from Ridge, NY

Please ask why I never see any signs at pro life rallies protesting for the rights of children after they are born (like better foster care, stronger child abuse laws, better adoption system, etc, etc...)? Seems like a fetus has a million friends in this country until its born.

Jan. 30 2012 12:51 PM
francyne pelchar from Bronx, NY

Thank you for your work. I was one of the early beneficiaries of legal abortion in NY. I was a student who got pregnant despite using birth control.
I was able to get a legal abortion in NYC. I didn't have parents with money to take me out of the country as some of my friends did.

I've grown up child-free. Got my tubes tied at 25.

A feminist who thanks you deeply.


Jan. 30 2012 12:48 PM
The Truth from Becky

JBuzz, there is no reason for men to have vasectomies either, but it is done.

Jan. 30 2012 12:48 PM
Howard from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Before abortion became legal in the United States, when women went to the hospital to have a "D and C" was that really an abortion, disguised as another procedure?

Jan. 30 2012 12:47 PM
The Truth from Becky

I like how she is speaking, handling this delicate subject matter in a way that I am not far so good and I agree with her.

Jan. 30 2012 12:46 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The main reason for the decline and eventual downfall of America AND Europe is the legalization of abortion and the destruction of the patriarchal family. There is no honest reason for using abortion as a contraceptive measure when "the pill" and other good contraceptives became available over 40 years ago! The fact that feminist women have arrogantly arrogated the right to commit infanticide-at-will is an unforgivable sin that the whole society will pay for, and is paying for. It has meant reliance on illegal immigration, the rise of single mother households and increasing social welfare and taxation, and is basically national suicide.

I was once for abortion, or the "right to choose" and have learned from only to personal experiences how misguided and EVIL abortion is! Period!

Jan. 30 2012 12:44 PM

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