Merle Hoffman

A leader in the struggle for women’s rights

Work & Activism

Merle Hoffman is an internationally known leader in the struggle for women’s rights, a healthcare pioneer, founder of women’s health, political, and reproductive rights organizations and a prize-winning writer and publisher. Her work spans 50 years and continues today, proving to be more essential and relevant than ever in the ongoing fight for women’s human rights, including the ability to make their own reproductive choices.

  • Choices Women's Medical Center

    Merle Hoffman established Choices Women’s Medical Center, one of the country’s first abortion centers, in 1971, two years before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationally. She continues to serve as President and CEO, implementing and expanding her initial vision of empowering women and girls through reproductive choice and the best care possible.

  • Choices Global Institute of Healing & Education

    Created by Merle Hoffman in 2015 to help immigrant and minority women who live in shame-and-honor cultures, Choices Global Institute of Healing and Education is a nonprofit foundation to support projects in the USA and internationally that promote health services and education for underserved women.

  • Intimate Wars

    Merle Hoffman’s memoir, Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Boardroom, was published in 2012 by Feminist Press. Publishers Weekly opined that “she eloquently chronicles more than three decades of struggles to keep abortion legal. Readers will learn much about her drive to recast ‘reproductive freedom as a positive moral value.'”

  • On The Issues Magazine

    Merle Hoffman is the publisher of On the Issues Magazine, which began as a print publication in 1983 and went online in 2008. It featured provocative interviews with pathbreaking leaders in the feminist, civil and human rights and environmental movements, among other articles.

  • Choices East

    When Merle Hoffman learned about the lack of birth control options available to women in Russia, she organized and led a trip of physicians and counselors from Choices on a well-publicized educational exchange there. In 1984 she began working with Russian hospitals and doctors to develop Choices East, the first feminist outpatient medical center in Russia.

The papers of Merle Hoffman span the years from about 1944 to 2001, with most of the papers dating between 1961 and 2001. The collection is arranged in the following series: Choices, On the Issues, Personal Files, Photographic Materials, and Audiovisual Materials. The bulk of the materials consist of the records of Choices Women’s Medical Center, a New York City women’s health clinic and abortion clinic co-founded by Hoffman in 1971, and the organizational records for On the Issues, a feminist magazine owned by Choices and overseen by Hoffman. The remainder of the collection consists of Hoffman’s personal papers, mostly related to her pro-choice activism.

In addition to her pro-choice activities, Merle Hoffman has been a vocal proponent of patient self-empowerment; an active supporter of various political candidates in New York City; and a feminist activist. The collection reflects these interests to varying degrees. The records of On the Issues magazine are especially useful as a source of writings on a broad range of feminist and other issues.

To access the collection, visit:
Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History & Culture

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