A leader in the struggle for women’s rights

Merle Hoffman is an internationally known leader in the struggle for women’s rights, a healthcare pioneer, founder of women’s health, political, and reproductive rights organizations, and a prize-winning writer and publisher. She is known as a debater, speaker, publisher, writer, and organizer, addressing challenging questions and upholding women’s rights.
In 1971, Merle Hoffman establishes Choices Women’s Medical Center, one of the country’s first abortion clinics, two years before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationally in the Roe V. Wade Decision. Today, Choices is one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive women’s medical facilities.
In 1976, Merle Hoffman co-founds NAF, the National Abortion Federation, the first professional organization of abortion providers in the U.S. and serves as its first president. Here she is with friend and NAF member Dr. George Tiller, late term abortion provider, who was murdered in 2009 by an anti-abortion extremist.
In 1983, she publishes and serves as Editor-in-Chief of On the Issues, the progressive women’s quarterly, which began as a print publication and went online in 2008.
In 1985, Hoffman founds the New York Pro-Choice Coalition (NYPCC) in response to the attacks by Operation Rescue to try to shut down abortion services in New York City.
In 1989, Hoffman organizes the first Pro-Choice Civil Disobedience at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1989 where 9 people are arrested.
In 1992, Hoffman works to open the first Feminist Medical Center in Moscow and works with Polish feminists against draconian abortion restrictions in Poland in 2020. Here she is with Moscow physicians comforting a patient.
In 1993, Hoffman broadens the services of the medical center by creating Choices Mental Health Center which addressed a full range of psychological issues including rape, incest, and domestic violence as well as general psychiatric and psychological services.
In 2015, Hoffman founds Choices Institute of Women's Health, a non-profit foundation to support projects in the US and internationally that promote health services and education for underserved women. The Institute is dedicated to enhanced outreach and empowerment, fostering active support and collaboration to champion a more equitable and inclusive society. Student interns and visitors shown here learn important skills in bringing health education to others.
In January 2022, she co-initiates RiseUp4AbortionRights to build mass non-violent protests to stop the U.S. Supreme Court from decimating abortion rights and to challenge complacency in the face of the possible overturning of Roe. V. Wade.
Hoffman's memoir, Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Boardroom, is published in 2012 by Feminist Press. Publishers Weekly opined that "she eloquently chronicles more than three decades of struggles to keep abortion legal."
In her new book releasing November 2023, CHOICES: A Post-Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto, written after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, Hoffman sheds light on the catastrophic repercussions of overturning Roe and what we as a nation must do moving forward to ensure the safety and freedom of women and girls everywhere.
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Choices: A Post-Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto

By Merle Hoffman

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“Merle Hoffman has always known that in a democracy, we each have decision-making power over the fate of our own bodies. She is a national hero for us all.” ​—Gloria Steinem

CHOICES A Post Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto
About Merle

Pioneering Advocate: Merle Hoffman's Legacy in Women's Reproductive Rights

Merle Hoffman is an internationally known leader in the struggle for women’s rights, a healthcare pioneer, founder of women’s health, political, and reproductive rights organizations, and a prize-winning writer and publisher. Her work spans 52 years and continues today, proving to be more essential and relevant than ever in the ongoing fight for women’s human rights, including the ability to make their own reproductive choices.

Merle Hoffman speaking at the New York Public Library about Intimate Wars.
Merle’s Work

Choices Women's Medical Center

A pioneer in women’s reproductive health care, Merle Hoffman established one of the first ambulatory abortion centers in the nation in 1971, Choices Women's Medical Center, shortly after New York State legalized abortion before the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
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Choices East

In 1994 when Hoffman learned about the lack of birth control options available to women in Russia, she began working with Russian hospitals and doctors to develop CHOICES EAST, the first feminist outpatient medical center in Russia.

Choices Institute of Women's Health

The Choices Institute of Women’s Health was founded in 2015 to help address the global need for education and services relating to women’s and girls’ health, well-being, and ability to thrive and achieve their potential as full human beings.
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Archives & Manuscripts

The papers of Merle Hoffman span the years from about 1944 to 2001, with most of the papers dating between 1961 and 2001. The collection is arranged in the following series: Choices, On the Issues, Personal Files, Photographic Materials, and Audiovisual Materials.
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Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights

In January 2022 when the US Supreme Court indicated it was on track to overturn Roe v Wade, Hoffman co-initiated Rise Up For Abortion Rights (RU4AR) with Sunsara Taylor and Lori Sokol. RU4AR called for and organized massive nationwide protests in the streets to prevent abortion from being outlawed, under the slogan “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology.”
CHOICES A Post Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto

Choices: A Post-Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and a country divided, Merle Hoffman, a pioneer in the pro-choice movement and women’s healthcare, offers an unapologetic and authoritative take on abortion calling it “the front line and the bottom line of women’s freedom and liberty.”

Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Board Room

Merle Hoffman's Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Boardroom is available on Amazon.com in paperback, ebook and audiobook formats.
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On The Issues Magazine

Merle Hoffman is the publisher and editor-in-chief of On The Issues Magazine, which began as a Newsletter in 1983 and soon became a high-quality print magazine published quarterly. Adapting to the changing times, it went online in 2008. It featured provocative interviews with pathbreaking leaders in the feminist, civil and human rights, and environmental movements, along with front-line reports from the battle around abortion, from clinics that had been bombed to commentary from brave activists.
Merle Hoffman holds up her hanger prop in protest of abortion laws.Merle Hoffman Protest Banner 2022

Left: Merle Hoffman at the First Pro-Choice Civil Disobedience, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 1989. Right: Merle Hoffman speaking at RiseUp4AbortionRights rally at Supreme Court on Roe V. Wade anniversary, Jan 22nd, 2022. 

“As long as women’s sexuality and reproductive capacities are controlled and defined by men either as lovers, husbands, doctors, legislators, or judges, ‘women’s health’ will remain an oxymoron..”
– Merle Hoffman


Merle Hoffman featured in Veteran Feminists of America (VFA) Pioneer Histories Project

As U.S. restrictions tighten, women seeking abortions hit the road

She Ran an Abortion Clinic Before Roe v. Wade. She Has Some Thoughts.

Women who fought for US abortion rights in the 70s call for mass global protests

A Note About Language

I understand and respect that not every person with the capacity for pregnancy identifies as a woman. I respect each individual’s gender identity, expression, and experience, and desire to be helpful and compassionate to all who need information about abortion or support.  As an expression of this concern, Choices Women’s Medical Center initiated the first Trans Health Care Program in New York State in 2016.

While I do make an effort to use gender-inclusive language (person/people/they/them/patient) throughout this website, I do of course use woman/women/girls. I do so in order to acknowledge the long history of gender discrimination targeting women, the specialized health care that we provide, our experience with hundreds of thousands of women using our services and the biological reality that only people with uteruses are biologically capable of becoming pregnant and carrying a fetus.