Betty Ford: Advocate for Addicts, Women
by Shmuel Bruck
To the dismay of President Ford’s advisers, Former First Lady Betty Ford, was extremely vocal about many taboo issues. She spoke openly about matters other first ladies typically wouldn’t. She campaigned vigorously for the Equal Rights Amendment, the women’s right to abortion, child abuse, drugs, sex, gays in the military and gun control, among other social issues.
Mrs. Fold shared details of her personal struggle with breast cancer and paved the way for women to seek early testing for the disease.
She spoke candidly of her own addiction to drugs and alcohol and in 1982 co-founded the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse and addiction, where she would regularly greet new patients with the words, “Hello, my name’s Betty Ford, and I’m an alcoholic and drug addict.” Even though the Center became most famous for its celebrity patients, it keeps it rates relatively low and has treated more than 90,000 people. Mrs. Ford has inspired many others to seek help for their own addictions.
Mrs. Betty Ford died at age 93 on Friday in Eisenhower Medical Center of natural causes, said a close family friend.
She is survived by her four children, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“As our nation’s First Lady, she was a powerful advocate for women’s health and women’s rights,” President Obama said Friday. “After leaving the White House, Mrs. Ford helped reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired thousands to seek much-needed treatment.”
The family of Former First Lady Betty Ford announced that her memorial service on Tuesday at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert would be private. Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, a close friend of Mrs. Ford, will delivery one of the eulogies. Mrs. Ford’s remains will be flown to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to be laid beside her husband, Former President Gerald Ford.