|Ford was known for her battles with addiction which led to the founding of a famed rehabilitation clinic [Reuters]|
Betty Ford, the wife of Gerald Ford, the late US president, has died at age 93.
Ford was known for her battles with addiction which led to the founding of a famed drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic bearing her name.
The clinic remains one of the most well-respected places in the US for the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse
“I was deeply saddened this afternoon when I heard of Betty Ford’s death,” former first lady Nancy Reagan said in a statement on Friday confirming Ford’s death.
Ford also promoted awareness and research on breast cancer, through the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation eventually naming an award in her honor.
She won numerous honors and awards, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1998.
‘Fighting first lady’
Ford once was dubbed the “fighting first lady” by Time magazine because of her outspoken political views, which often differed from those of her husband’s Republican Party.
She strongly supported women’s rights while she was in the White House, working the phones in a vain attempt to get states to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which sought to give women and men equality under law.
Her candour was surprising for the time. She took a tolerant stance on abortion and admitted without shame that some of her children had tried marijuana. Nor was she alarmed by the prospect of her daughter having premarital sex.
Ford also was an early campaigner against breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy in 1974, less than two months after her husband succeeded the disgraced Richard Nixon as president.
Her frank discussions about her disease helped raise awareness about breast cancer and she eventually took the same approach toward her alcoholism, which she battled even as first lady.
Her problems with chemical dependency may have begun in 1964, when doctors prescribed her painkillers for a pinched nerve. She developed an addiction to prescription drugs and also became dependent on alcohol during the 1960s.
The Betty Ford Center in California came into being after Ford herself was treated for her addictions at the US Naval Hospital at Long Beach, and saw the need for treatment that emphasized the special needs of women.