A Lesson From History: WWII and Fighting to Keep Women From Slavery

A Lesson From History: WWII and Fighting to Keep Women From Slavery

The war in Afghanistan is not the first U.S. war in which the ill-treatment of women was used to stoke the fire for war support at home. The New York Times on April 18, 1943, reported on President Franklin Roosevelts speech to the Daughters of the American Revolution in Cincinnati just the day before.

The headline was straightforward: PRESIDENT ASKS AID OF WOMEN IN WAR. And the message was underscored by a sub-head that hit squarely on the themes of President Roosevelts speech: Message to D.A.R. in Cincinnati Stressed Policy of Axis in Degrading, Enslaving Them. The Times then reported:

CINCINNATI, April 17 (U.P.) American women must take an ever-increasing part
in production of arms to smash the Axis because “in a profound sense, it is a women’s war,” President Roosevelt said in a message tonight to the congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

“It is a women’s war, first, because we have never before faced an enemy whose pronounced policy has been the degradation of womanhood, whose ultimate design is to build a world where women everywhere will be slaves,” Mr. Roosevelt said.

In shops and in offices, in factories and on farms, women are doing men’s jobs, that men may be free to do the supreme job of beating the Axis,” President Roosevelt said.

“Women have played heroic roles in every crisis of our history, but no other crisis has so deeply threatened their freedom, or so urgently demanded their strength.”

Mrs. William H. Pouch, president general, urged the delegates to follow the example of Mme. Chiang Kai-shek to “bring us all through this black period of strife.”

“Our sacrifices have scarce begun,” Mrs. Pouch said, “but we shall meet them with equal fortitude.”


Merle Hoffman's Choices: A Post-Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto

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“Merle Hoffman has always known that in a democracy, we each have decision-making power over the fate of our own bodies. She is a national hero for us all.” —Gloria Steinem

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade and a country divided, Merle Hoffman, a pioneer in the pro-choice movement and women’s healthcare, offers an unapologetic and authoritative take on abortion calling it “the front line and the bottom line of women’s freedom and liberty.” 

Merle Hoffman has been at the forefront of the reproductive freedom movement since the 1970s. Three years before the Supreme Court legalized abortion through Roe v. Wade, she helped to establish one of the United States’ first abortion centers in Flushing, Queens, and later went on to found Choices, one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive women’s medical facilities. For the last five decades, Hoffman has been a steadfast warrior and fierce advocate for every woman’s right to choose when and whether or not to be a mother.