Friday, January 22, 2010

RIP Ruth Proskauer-Smith.

She co-founded NARAL. She worked tirelessly for end of life rights. She lived 102 years.

From Compassion & Choices president Barbara Coombs Lee:

Ruth Proskauer Smith, a friend and an activist for individual autonomy, died last night, closing her life in the manner she had wished for, planned for and devoted her life to securing as her right.

When I met Ruth in 1996, she was already an icon in the movement for freedom of choice at the end-of-life. She had a long list of accomplishments behind her. But she was not happy. At that time, only Oregon had succeeded in affirmatively legalizing aid in dying, and its Death With Dignity law languished in legal limbo. Ruth was determined to make a difference and joined the work of Compassion & Choices, serving as a dedicated ambassador of end-of-life choice.

Among the things I treasure from my 15-year friendship with Ruth is having had the opportunity to see her growing pleasure with advances we’ve achieved in end-of-life choice. Together Ruth and I witnessed the triumph of justice over repeated legal challenges to Oregon’s law, the passage and implementation of Death With Dignity in Washington, the passage in California of the Terminally Ill Patients’ Right to Know End-of-Life Options Act and a ruling by the Montana Supreme Court to recognize and affirm physician aid in dying.

Ruth was a generous, fierce and dedicated supporter of our movement, as she was forreproductive choice.

From HuffPo:

Ruth Proskauer Smith, a founding hero of the reproductive rights movement, died last night at 102 years of age.

As we celebrate today the anniversary of Roe v. Wade - an historic decision of which Ruth was part - we mourn the loss of this remarkable woman.

Ruth Proskauer Smith's history on behalf of reproductive freedom spans back to the 1940's, when she began advocating to give women access to birth control. In 1969, she co-founded NARAL with the goal of litigating against state abortion prohibitions, a life mission that led us directly to the steps of the United States Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade. For her work in reproductive rights, NARAL Pro-Choice New York honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award at our 2009 Champions of Choice Luncheon.

While she lived to see the legalization of abortion and took pride in her role in ensuring safe healthcare, she also recognized the unrealized promise of full access and the challenges that remain.

We honor Ruth as a founder and are reminded of all the young women activists today who will be the next leaders of our movement. On this 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we send out thanks to the women who came before and all those who will come after.

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