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.
Let's listen together Ruth's own words and reflect on how much we've accomplished and how much more work still remains to be done.