A pioneer in women’s reproductive health care, Merle Hoffman established one of the first ambulatory abortion centers in the nation in 1971, shortly after New York State legalized abortion and two years before the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Since then, under her visionary leadership and practical guidance, Choices Women’s Medical Center has become a full-service women’s health facility, including complete gynecological services and a busy prenatal department, along with providing abortions up to 24 weeks and many other services. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive women’s health centers in the country, serving over 40,000 patients each year.
Her dedication to women has led her to travel the country, debating anti-choice leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry. In 1988, Hoffman organized the New York Pro-Choice Coalition and led it to develop a national strategy for defending clinics against blockades, harassment and invasions. She publicly challenged New York City’s Cardinal O’Connor in the first pro-choice civil disobedience action at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1989 where nine people were arrested, holding up her iconic six-foot long coat hanger while declaring, “Women’s Rights are in a State of Emergency.”
In this video, she discusses her life, philosophy and all the choices that led her to becoming a feminist warrior.
Check out the video chronicle of our journey to Jamaica! President/CEO Merle Hoffman guides viewers through the process of turning an empty building into a center for reproductive rights, sharing the nuts and bolts of being an abortion provider -- from struggling to survive in a building with an anti-choice landlord, to persevering despite protesters, to designing space for patients.
Abortion Rights Emergency Speak Out, NYC, April 11, 2014
Abortion Rights Emergency Speak Out, NYC, April 11, 2014
at Advent Lutheran Church, featuring:
Bill Baird, won Supreme Court case granting birth control to unmarried women
Louise Bernikow, author, poet, activist
David Gunn, Jr., son of David Gunn, Sr., heroic abortion doctor who was assassinated in 1993
Merle Hoffman, CEO of Choices Medical Center
Dr. Willie Parker, award winning abortion doctor, including at last abortion clinic in Mississippi
Marge Piercy, poet, author, activist
Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution, an initiator of StopPatriarchy.org
Merle Hoffman, Abortion Rights Freedom Rider on July 2, 2014
Merle Hoffman, CEO of Choices Women's Medical Center, calls on YOU to join her in becoming a Freedom Rider for women's lives by donating, sending a statement or photos, or coming down to be in Texas for the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas.
A Friend In Deed, my Sister-Warrior, Merle Hoffman - October 1, 2015
My dearest friend, Merle Hoffman, with whom I've strategized, demonstrated, worked, and partied for nearly 30 years, gave a beautiful, moving speech on my behalf. Merle is a very unique feminist. She has kept the vision alive and healthy; on her watch, it has never gone under. Merle built a high quality ambulatory medical-surgical center that services women's reproductive, birth control, maternal, cardiac, and mental health needs. She is also the founder and publisher of wonderful feminist magazine "On the Issues" for which I served as the Editor at Large. She is the author of "Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Boardroom."
Abortion activist Merle Hoffman said aggressive anti-abortion activists were "bullies" and the "American Taliban." City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she disagreed with equating the protesters with the Taliban.
They spoke at an October 19, 2012 press conference in City Hall about boosting the number of volunteers who'll serve as escorts for people entering health care facilities where there are protesters.
For more info, visit www.CapitalNewYork.com.
Nov. 18, 2013; Healer: Design and Reproductive Health
How can design facilitate access to reproductive health care? And conversely, how can it hinder? Pioneering activists Rebecca Gomperts and Merle Hoffman are joined by GSAPP Faculty Laura Kurgan and Hilary Sample to explore these questions spatially. Amsterdam-based Gomperts is a doctor, activist, and Founder and Director of Women on Waves, which according to Artforum, "works within international maritime law to provide abortions and contraception to women denied access to such services, via a ship bearing a clinic/container designed by Joep van Lieshout," as well as the online platform Women on Web, which offers consultation and abortion pills to women in need. New York-based Merle Hoffman founded Choices Women's Medical Center in 1971—two years before the landmark US Supreme Court case Roe v Wade—where she chartered "Patient Power," or, a way for women to participate in their own medical decisions, co-opted the metal hanger as a symbol of the Pro-Choice movement, and recently, opened a new and state-of-the-art clinic in Jamaica, Queens. This conversation marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade. November 18, 2013
Press Club Rewind is a weekly video review of events at the National Press Club. In this week's edition: Abortion activist Merle Hoffman discusses the effect of the economy on abortion rates; the family of a hazing victim stands up against campus brutality; the club welcomes a new president as Theresa Werner receives the gavel from the outgoing Mark Hamrick; and much more.
Merle Hoffman, CEO of Choices in Queens NY was the keynote speaker at the Abortion Care Network conference, Standing Together: Our Passion is Our Power, May 20, 2012. She spoke to a crowd of abortion providers and their allies calling them "warrior healers who are practicing medicine in a war zone."