|Merle Hoffman made the front page of New York Magazine for staging the first pro-choice civil disobedience on the steps of St. Patricks Cathedral to protest the Catholic church's relationship with Operation Rescue. Always controversial, Hoffman held aloft her 6-foot hanger|
CHOICES Women's Medical Center was founded in 1971 by Merle Hoffman, a leading advocate of women's rights and reproductive freedom. This was shortly after abortion became legal in New York State, two years before the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe V Wade decision legalized abortion nationally.
Ms. Hoffman's deep concerns for women's equality, along with her studies in social psychology, led her to establish CHOICES in order to provide the very best in reproductive health care for women of all ages so they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Under her guidance, at CHOICES, women and their lives have always - and continue - to come first.
Merle Hoffman has authored numerous papers and articles on women's medical and political issues, which have been published in national and international publications including the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Journal of American Women's Associations. Based on her concerns and understanding of women's reproductive health needs, including the right to abortion services, Ms. Hoffman's voice has been heard in political action and in the media.
An indefatigable and vigorous political organizer, Ms. Hoffman has been instrumental in guaranteeing abortion rights and encouraging the silent majority of pro-choice Americans to speak out. In April of 1989, Ms. Hoffman organized the first pro-choice civil disobedience action at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. She was a co-founder of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) and founder of the New York Pro-Choice Coalition, the first umbrella organization of pro-choice individuals and organizations committed to ensuring legal, safe abortion in New York. Due to her leadership role, Ms. Hoffman has been called upon to debate leaders of the anti-abortion movement and the Religious Right, such as Jean Head and the Reverend Jerry Falwell. In 1982, Ms. Hoffman produced wrote and directed the documentary film "Abortion: A Different Light." In 1986, Ms. Hoffman produced and hosted "MH: ON THE ISSUES, a monthly 30-minute cable TV show that reached into the homes of three million viewers.
She has given lectures and presentations throughout the country, and has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV programs addressing issues such as birth control, abortion, women as medical consumers, and other feminist issues. Ms. Hoffman has attacked the Hyde Amendment, banning federal funding of abortion, as a violation of the rights of women in general and poor women in particular. She also convinced congress to pass legislation requiring the accurate labeling of over-the-counter birth control.
Ms. Hoffman's concern for the needs and rights of her patients led her to publish two influential studies that received nationwide media attention, documenting how poverty leads many women to choose abortion and that nearly half of all women seeking abortions at Choices would pursue an illegal abortion if Roe v. Wade were reversed.
Ms. Hoffman is Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of ON THE ISSUES: THE PROGRESSIVE WOMEN'S QUARTERLY. Originally conceived as a newsletter in 1982, ON THE ISSUES grew to have an international reputation as a leading intellectual, visionary voice in the feminist and progressive community. It stopped publication as a print magazine in 1999 and is currently being reborn as an online publication.
In 1992, Ms. Hoffman began work on "Choices East" the first outpatient feminist medical center in Russia's history. She led Russian feminists in delivering an open letter to Boris Yeltsin in a call for a Global Mandate for Choice, demanding better, safer choices for birth control.
Ms. Hoffman presented at the 1995 International Women's Conference in Beijing at the invitation of the Japanese Association of Feminist Counseling Practices, addressing an international panel on women's therapy issues. An ardent supporter of the integration of philosophy with traditional therapy where appropriate, Ms. Hoffman was appointed to the American Philosophical Practitioners Association's (APPA) National Advisory Board August of 2002.
Ms. Hoffman has received many awards during her career. In 1984, the Department of Corrections of New York City recognized her work. Ms. Hoffman was included in the "Who's Who of American Women," "Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare", as well as "Who's Who in the World." In 1994, Ms. Hoffman's magazine ON THE ISSUES was presented with an award for exceptional merit for editorial work regarding rape and the criminal justice system.
Her outstanding leadership and achievements in the advancement of women's equality were noted in 1987 and 1995 by the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.). Her contribution to the well being of women was recognized from 1988 through 1997, with the Women of Vision award, commendations from Women's Health Care Services, Ecovisions, Community Action Network, the National Victim's Center, and the Congress of Racial Equality. Former Mayor Koch of the City of New York awarded Ms. Hoffman a plaque in appreciation for her dedicated volunteer service. In 1995, Ms. Hoffman was awarded the Women's Equality Award by the Long Island National Organization for Women for her work in advancing equality. On June 10, 1998, Ms. Hoffman received the Women of Power and Influence Award from the NYC Chapter of the National Organization for Women. Ms. Hoffman also received an award for lifetime service to the movement from the Veteran Feminists of America in 2000 and 2002.
She was also the subject of an honorary film called "25 Years of Choices," produced by Parke-Davis. In 1999 Duke University acquired Ms. Hoffman's papers which have become an important collection in the University's archives.
Merle Hoffman at Abortion Care Network
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.
We're proud of our beautiful new home, and can't wait to share it with you.
Merle Hoffman, founder and president of Choices Women's Medical Center, is featured in New York Magazine's "Intelligencer"
CHOICES Women's Medical Center was founded in 1971 by Merle Hoffman, a leading advocate of women's rights and reproductive freedom. This was shortly after abortion became legal in New York State, two years before the Roe V Wade decision legalizing abortion nationally.
CHOICES stands for Creative Health Organization for Information, Counseling and Educational Services.
The first woman to come to CHOICES was from New Jersey, a state where abortion was still illegal at that time. She was young, married with one child, but having a child at that time was financially impossible for her. Since that day so many years ago, CHOICES has been there for hundreds of thousands of women assisting them in what is one of the most difficult and profound decisions OF THEIR LIVES.
New York State is one of the few states today that has almost NO restrictions on getting an abortion.
There are NO laws requiring parental notification or consent, and NO required waiting periods. You can get a first-trimester abortion (the first three months of pregnancy) the same day you come in and also BEGIN the process of a second trimester abortion.
CHOICES provides medical abortion services (RU486) up to 9 weeks gestation and surgical abortion services in both the first trimester (up to 12 weeks gestation) and second trimester (from 12.1 to 24 weeks).
New York is also one of the few states that continue to offer Medicaid funding for low-income women. Today, women come to CHOICES from all over New York, many other states, and many countries to access our services. Each has her own story and her own reasons. They know and trust that they will receive the best of care, compassion and confidentiality at CHOICES.
The status of abortion in the U.S.
In the U.S., abortion was made legal nationwide in 1973 by the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
The court's position stated that in the first trimester, abortion is a decision between a woman and her physician. In the second trimester the state has a "right to regulate" abortion practices. In New York there is a law requiring that all second trimester abortions be done in licensed and regulated outpatient facilities such as CHOICES. In the third trimester, abortion is only allowed to save the life or health of the woman.
The Roe decision was a great advance for women. It meant that women had the legal right to decide for themselves whether or not to become a mother and how they wanted to live their lives. In a sense it was the Medical Equal Rights Amendment. For the first time in history women were given a legal right of decision-making equal with their physicians.
Unfortunately, due to anti-choice pressure, many states have instituted restrictions that make it difficult for women to exercise their right to abortion. Abortion opponents have claimed many different reasons for these restrictions, but they all are aimed at making it more difficult to get an abortion and to discourage women from exercising their most fundamental right to decide for themselves whether or not to give birth.
Restrictions in some states include:
In addition, because of such restrictive laws and the actions of anti-abortion forces who have threatened and even killed doctors and health care workers, finding an abortion provider can be very difficult in many states. Over 87 percent of counties in the U.S. have NO abortion provider at all, and women and girls have to travel great distances to get care. New York State is fortunate to have none of these restrictive laws.
At CHOICES, we are committed to making abortion available and accessible to every woman who does not want to continue a pregnancy for any reason.
We at CHOICES WOMEN'S MEDICAL CENTER firmly believe that in matters of pregnancy and childbearing, women and their lives must come first, and women must be the ones to decide. We are committed to helping women make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones.
CHOICES is committed to Women's Health throughout their reproductive - and post-reproductive - lives.
Teens and Abortion
From its beginning, CHOICES has felt strongly that teenaged women need to have the same access to reproductive health services as adult women and are fully capable of making decisions for themselves. At the same time, we strongly encourage parents, a close relative, or a significant other to be part of the decision process for support and assistance. At CHOICES, these significant others can participate in the counseling session if the woman chooses to have them. At no time, however, is parental or partner consent or notification required for a teen to come to CHOICES for an abortion or birth control.
CHOICES is licensed by the State of New York as an outpatient medical facility and is subject to its regulations for health care providers. We are accredited by the AAAHC (American Association of Ambulatory Health Care) and have one of the best clinical outcome statistics in the country. We are committed to providing the very best in a full range of reproductive health care, including birth control, abortion, pre-natal, and all gynecological issues.
On The Issues Magazine
ON THE ISSUES MAGAZINE ONLINE (http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com) is a successor to the print publication, On The Issues Magazine, a progressive, feminist quarterly print publication from 1983 to 1999, both published by Choices Women’s Medical Center, Merle Hoffman, President and CEO.
"On The Issues Magazine" FALL 2012:
Success on equality and justice takes activism in every season -- in and beyond elections. Our writers and thinkers zoom in on core concerns and ideas for our future in On The Issues Magazine Spring 2012.