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During the ratification process for the Equal Rights Amendment, which ultimately failed to win approval, she wrote letters and telephoned state lawmakers in an attempt to enlist their support.Her outspoken advocacy alienated ERA foes, who at one point organized an angry picket line in front of the White House.At the start of her husband's abbreviated White House term, Ford indicated that she would prefer that her husband not run for the presidency in 1976.She later changed her mind, and campaigned for him enthusiastically.Although her opinions may have cost him some votes, historians and other observers would argue later that Gerald Ford could not have ended "our long national nightmare" without Betty leading the way."I was terrified at first," she once said about her sudden elevation to first lady. I had raised a family — and I was ready to get back to work again. And I didn't have the vaguest idea what being a first lady was and what was demanded of me."The solution? Ford caught the attention of a scandal-weary America with her opinions on her children's dating habits and their possible marijuana use, and on her and her husband's decision not to follow the White House tradition of separate bedrooms.She enthusiastically campaigned for feminist causes that she believed in — the Equal Rights Amendment, for example, and the nomination of a woman to the Supreme Court.
"As our nation's First Lady, she was a powerful advocate for women's health and women's rights. Ford helped reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired thousands to seek much-needed treatment.
She startled a nationwide television audience one Sunday evening shortly after becoming first lady, telling CBS "60 Minutes" interviewer Morley Safer that she wouldn't be surprised if her daughter Susan, then 18, decided to have an affair.
Ford said that she would "certainly counsel her and advise her on the subject, and I'd want to know pretty much about the young man that she was planning to have the affair with."She went on to say that she assumed her children had tried marijuana and called the Supreme Court decision supporting a woman's right to have an abortion "the best thing in the world …
Her vigorous support of the women's movement inspired leading feminist Gloria Steinem to remark that she "felt better knowing that Betty Ford was sleeping with the president."Two months after Ford moved into the White House, a malignancy was discovered in her right breast.
She underwent a radical mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy.