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Betty Ford dies

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Betty Ford

Former first lady Betty Ford died Friday at the age of ninety-three at her home in California. She outlived her husband by five years. Betty Ford's name has become synonymous with issues of addiction and alcoholism, and it's important to remember how that happened. Sure, she struggled with a pill addiction and was forced to seek help, but what's important is how open she was about her journey. In a time where alcoholism and addition weren't discussed — and certainly not by ladies — Betty Ford helped to de-stigmatize these mental health issues.

And her influence wasn't confined solely to addiction recovery. She spoke openly in support of abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment. She was also far more candid about issues of sexuality than her predecessors; in a televised interview she said that she wouldn't be surprised if her daughter had premarital sex. And she served as an inspiration to American women when she publicly battled breast cancer — and underwent a mastectomy — while in the White House.

Betty Ford accomplished much on behalf of Americans, and American women especially. She famously said, "The search for human freedom can never be complete without freedom for women." Betty Ford was an important woman who lived an honest, brave life and who helped others to do the same.