A Woman’s Place is in the House — and Senate!

A Woman’s Place is in the House — and Senate!

by Betty G. Lall

Choices. We are asked: Why is it so important to have more women in politics? To get out and exercise our right to vote; to have our numbers represented not only at the polls, but on the ballot as well!

We as women can choose to get involved, to stand up for the issues we believe in. or to cast our fate to those who may or may not care about our priorities, or who trade them away when it seems “more expedient” to compromise.

Let me tell you a true story. In 1956, when I was appointed Director of Senator Hubert H. Humphrey’s Subcommittee on Disarmament, the “buzz” on the Hill was that perhaps a woman should not have Floor privileges in the Senate and perhaps someone else (not a woman), could be sent in to brief the Senator on Committee matters.

It was also suggested that my salary need not be raised to the level commensurate with male staff directors. After all, I was “only a woman.” And perhaps “it wouldn’t look right” if I were to accompany the Senator and staff on Committee business outside the District.

Those were hard days for women, and, despite many inroads women have made in the political arena and elsewhere, we still have a very long way to go.

Senator Humphrey stood firm in my behalf. Unfortunately, today the Senate is not dominated by Senator Humphreys. In fact, there is a growing conservatism in the Republican controlled Senate which affects not just individual appointments, not just equality and the quality of staff, but a conservatism which has the potential of spreading like a cancer throughout the political world we live in. and dominating our lives and the choices we make about ourselves and our futures.

Choices. Nowhere but in our own Congress can we see so clearly how choices are made each day, on matters which range from “buckling-up” for our own safety, to whether we women have control over our own destinies: over our bodies, our selves; in our jobs; at home.

In Congress, choices also are made about where our hard-earned, taxpayers’ dollars are spent: on education, housing, programs for the elderly and the poor; on health-care and child-care centers, and other programs which provide women with the ability to make choices that they would otherwise be unable to afford.

And in Congress, choices are made about the world we live in. Whether to make peace or war. Whether to continue to build weapons which have the capacity to wipe out humanity many times over. Whether to acknowledge with friend or foe our mutual interests on this planet Earth, and the license we have to use, not destroy it.

Choices. These are choices we make every day, in our homes, in our hearts. These are also choices voted upon by our government comprised of elected officials.

Those officials make choices. And so do we. If we women were to vote our numbers, to choose thoughtfully who we want to represent us in Congress and what issues we hold dear, just think what we could do.

Right now, women make up only four percent of the Congress. Legislation on military intervention in Central America, on nerve gas and the MX missile, on “star wars” spending, on cutting funds for housing, health care, child-care centers, on programs for the elderly, and the poor… All this would change.

Why should women get involved in politics, and why should we vote more women into office at the polls? Because we women make choices. And we choose to make those choices happen.

BETTY G. LALL, is running for Congress in Manhattan’s 15th Congressional District. Help Betty by volunteering, contributing, voting on 9/11. Contact: Citizens for Betty Lall, 853 Broadway, Rm. 1114, NYC 10003. Phone: 505-2350. Betty has Merle’s active support.


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.