Part II – 1984

1953 | 1954 | 1955 | 1956 |1957 | 1958 | 1959
1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966
1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 19701971 | 1972 | 1973
1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980
1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987
1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | Epilogue, 1993


Rep. Mary Rose Oakar, (D-OH), introduced a bill to require the Federal government to pay its male and female employees equally for comparable work saying: “For too long, women have been paid at a lower rate than men even though their jobs have been of comparable worth . . . Positive steps must be taken at the national level.” (01/23/84)

In a 6-3 decision in Grove City College v. Bell, the U. S. Supreme Court accepted the Reagan Administration position that Title IX banned sex discrimination only in the specific programs within an educational institution that directly received Federal funding. The Nixon, Ford, and Carter Administrations had all interpreted Title IX to prohibit discrimination in the entire institution if it received any Federal financial aid. NOW President Judy Goldsmith joined Representative Patricia Schroeder (D-CO) and Claudine Schneider (R-RI) in denouncing the ruling and pledging to immediately pass legislation that would mandate a broad interpretation of Title IX. (02/28/84)

A Federal judge ruled that the government must pay women in the U.S. Civil Service system the same as men with the same duties and responsibilities, regardless of where they were located. (04/03/84)

Declaring it the “patriotic duty” of Romanian women to bear four children, President Nicolae Ceausescu announced”stern measures” against abortion to be enforced by the police. Married women had to undergo monthly pregnancy tests at their work- places, and had to have a medical explanation for “persistent non-pregnancy.” (1984)

Written confirmation from a doctor was required if a woman suffered a miscarriage. Should the pregnancy police decide a woman had lied about the termination of a pregnancy, she faced a year in prison. Women who did not fulfill their child quotas were rarely promoted, and could lose their jobs. (05/31/84)

The top midshipman in the U.S. Naval Academy’s class of 1984 was a woman, the first to graduate at the head of the class at a service academy since women were admitted in 1976. Kristine Holdereid, of Woodbine, MD, completed her four years in the Academy with a grade point average of 3.88 out of a possible 4.0. Class standing at the Naval Academy was based on both academic grades and marks in military performance. (05/15)

Europe’s last bastion of male supremacy at the ballot box crumbled when the men of Liechtenstein decided- somewhat reluctantly – to give women the right to vote in national elections. (07/01/84)

The U. S. Supreme Court, in a 7-0 decision, ruled that the Jaycees could be forced to admit women as full members by the Minnesota Public Accommodations law. (07/03/84)

Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY) became the first woman in American history to be chosen as the nominee for Vice President on a major party ticket after a year-long campaign by women’s groups for a woman Vice Presidential candidate. From the start, the Catholic hierarchy denounced her for her pro-choice stance. (07/20/84)

The Republican Reagan/Bush ticket won the 1984 election in a landslide attributed to rising confidence in the economy of the country. (11/06/84)

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the concept of pay equity for County employees. (12/11/84)


Hundreds of lesbian rights activists and supporters traveled from across the country to Milwaukee, WI, for the 1984 NOW Lesbian Rights Conference. Mandated by the 1982 NOW Conference, the meeting focused on the theme of power and politics in 1984. (01/20-22/84)

Throughout the January 22nd weekend, in recognition of the 11th anniversary of the U. S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, NOW chapters nationwide picketed Republican Party offices to protest President Reagan’s anti-abortion leadership. Nearly 75 actions across the country sent a strong message to the public which was highly critical of Reagan’s assault on women’s right to decide when and whether to have children. (01/22/84)

Wyoming NOW and Natrona County (WY) NOW co-sponsored a conference on sexual assault which included workshops on the practice of polygraph tests for rape victims, sexual violence against women and self defense. The conference ended with a “Take Back the Night” march through downtown Casper. The Natrona County NOW Task Force on Sexual Assault also released a report called “Polygraph: The Second Assault” which detailed findings of interviews with law enforcement and court officials, hospital employees and women’s advocates that substantiated the case for ending the use of the polygraph test on rape victims. (01/84)

Walter F. Mondale, Democratic candidate for President, endorsed the federal lesbian and gay rights bill, S. 430 during a Susan B. Anthony reception sponsored by NOW in Washington, D.C.. (02/15/84)

Bucks County (PA) NOW was part of a coalition of community leaders and feminists that turned out more than 300 demonstrators for a candlelight vigil at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, PA. The rally was organized to show support for the ERA and to protest the appearance of Phyllis Schlafly who spoke against the ERA. (02/22/84)

NOW President Judy Goldsmith sent a telegram to President Reagan, demanding that he immediately order the FBI and the Department of Justice to launch a full-scale investigation into the recent wave of anti-abortion terrorism. Neither the telegram nor follow-up phone calls to the Justice Department brought any response. Within a week, another clinic, this time in Washington state, was fire bombed. (03/02/84)

Broward (FL) NOW sponsored a “Motherhood by Choice” march and rally in Hollywood, FL. The Chapter protested the increasing attacks on reproductive freedom by the legislative process and individual cases of harassment and violence. (05/12/84)

In a White House picket, NOW President Judy Goldsmith called on Reagan to cease his “irresponsible and inflammatory anti-abortion, anti-woman rhetoric.” By repeatedly comparing abortion with murder, infanticide, slavery, and the Holocaust, Reagan only “encourages the fanatics to step up the violence,” said Goldsmith. She told reporters at the picket, “If Reagan persists in calling American women murderers, he must accept responsibility for the violence that is occurring.” (03/22/84)

A month after telegrams, phone calls, and a White House picket by NOW demanding an end to anti-abortion violence and harassment, Justice Department officials finally agreed to meet with NOW President Judy Goldsmith and NOW Vice President-Action Mary Jean Collins. In their two meetings with Justice Department representatives, Goldsmith and Collins called upon the Reagan Administration to fulfill its responsibility to enforce the Federal Civil Rights Laws. But the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division and officials of the Civil Rights Division claimed that they were powerless to stop the persistent civil rights violations occurring nationwide against women exercising their constitutional right to choose abortion. (05/84)

As opponents of abortion rights escalated their terrorist activities at health clinics throughout the summer and fall and violent incidents escalated both in number and in the nature of the attack, more and more NOW chapters across the country began providing escort service for women entering clinics to protect them against harassment. (1984)

Anti-abortion demonstrators harassed Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro on the campaign trail. (Fall/1984)

NOW President Judy Goldsmith joined the ranks of national leaders protesting the segregationist apartheid policies of South Africa. Goldsmith was arrested along with Congressman Louis Stokes (D-OH) and Evelyn Lowry, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Women, for demonstrating within 500 feet of an Embassy. (12/11/84)

In an important application of its anti-abortion and population control policies, the Reagan Administration told the major international family planning agency that it would lose all U.S. funding January 1, 1985. Bradman Weerakoon, secretary general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said that the loss of $17 million in federal funding would have “a very damaging effect” on the agency’s programs in 119 nations. (12/12/84)

The Federal Government issued a nationwide warning to abortion clinics and medical offices of a potential for violence January 20-22. The warning was delivered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to the Washington offices of the National Abortion Federation. They would not say if they had specific knowledge of threats. (12/28/94)


In an overwhelming vote, the U. S. House of Representatives registered its opposition to Reagan’s position on Title IX of the 1972 Education Act. Title IX prohibits sexual discrimination in “any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Since its enactment in 1972, the law had applied to the entire institution. Reagan favored a narrow interpretation which would limit application to the specific program receiving the funding. (01/84)

Los Angeles (CA) NOW’s Education Task Force held an “Equity in Science” competition, designed to honor women in science and public education. Co-chairs Joannie Parker and Connie Williamson invited all the high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District to submit the names of their outstanding science teacher and their outstanding young woman science student. (05/84)

The U. S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Civil Rights Act of 1984 (HR 5490/5 2568) by a vote of 375-32, but the legislation was killed in the Senate, 53-45. The bill was introduced to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Grove City v. Bell. As a result, there was no comprehensive legislation to prevent federally subsidized discrimination based on sex, race, age, or disability. (10/02/84)


Massachusetts NOW created opportunities to promote public discussion on sex discrimination in insurance and worked on legislation, in cooperation with other organizations, with the state attorney general’s insurance division, and other relevant agencies. The legislation, a comprehensive ban on sex discrimination in both existing and future insurance contracts, failed to pass in 1983, but was introduced again in 1984. (01/84)

NOW’s Vice President for Action, Mary Jean Collins, and California NOW President Sandra Farha testified before the state’s Senate Insurance Committee in support of a bill to ban sex discrimination in life insurance and annuities, and described the unique situation in California. In the past, many states such as California had put specific language permitting sex discriminatory prices and payouts in life insurance and annuities into insurance codes. Title VII bans this in payroll deductions so the state changed only this. (01/84)

San Joaquin (CA) NOW members celebrated Professional Secretaries Week by passing out flowers with the attached cards: “Raises not Roses, Comparable Worth.” Flowers were distributed to over 110 office workers during the noon hour and were also presented to the Stockton (CA) City Council and the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors along with an invitation to attend a comparable worth workshop. (04/23/84)

New Jersey NOW, along with about 100 members of other groups, rallied in front of the New Jersey Statehouse in support of a bill to end sex discrimination in the salaries of state workers. (08/84)

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Federal Pay Equity and Management Improvement Act of 1984 (HR 5680), by a 413-6 vote. Representative Mary Rose Oakar’s (D-OH) bill would require the office of Personnel Management to fund a private consultant to study the Federal government’s pay classification system. The study would determine the extent of sex-based wage discrimination. (06/28/84)


Twenty-four Roman Catholic nuns were singled out for punishment by the Vatican because of their public support for freedom of choice. The nuns signed their names to an ad published by Catholics for Free Choice in the New York Times. The ad was signed by nearly 100 lay and religious Catholics. It announced that “a diversity of opinions regarding abortion exists among committed Catholics” and called for ” discussion of this diversity of opinion within the Church.” (10/07/84)


Why and How Women Will Elect The Next President by Eleanor Smeal, former president of NOW, written with Kathy Bonk and Toni Carabillo, was published, and provided the basic explanation of the Gender Gap, the phenomonen which Smeal had first identified in the 1980 election. (01/26/84)

Lexington Area (MA) NOW targeted nine major U.S. corporations as part of a campaign to end sexism in advertising. Women in Media Task Force Chair Susan Shapiro said the task force had developed a rating system which classified female images in advertising from very offensive (“sex object-victim”) to desirable (“independent woman”). Portrayal of women as independent, confident, competent, with a sense of self-worth not dependent on a man or a clean house was the category that Lexington Area NOW encouraged advertisers to use. (02/84)

More than two thirds of the women responding to a February Women’s Day survey said they favored the ERA; four out of five believed in a woman’s right to choose abortion, 75% favored a nuclear freeze, 60% favored federally subsidized day care, and more than half supported affirmative action programs. The survey, which elicited more than 115,000 responses, making it the largest response ever to a survey appearing in a single issue of a magazine, showed continued strong support for a woman Vice Presidential candidate. Seventy two percent of respondents said that they would vote for a woman for President. (02/84)

Los Angeles (CA) NOW’s media task force had a preview screening of vignettes from six new episodes of TV’s “Cagney and Lacey.” Over 100 members paid $20 each to enjoy the special presentation and the panel discussion that followed. Both series stars Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly were panelists along with Barney Rosenzweig, Executive Producer; Peter Lefcourt, Producer; Barbara Corday, Co-Creator; and Patricia Knelman, Associate Producer. (03/12/84)

CBS Entertainment announced that “Cagney and Lacey” and “Kate and Allie” – two prime time television programs with strong female leads – would return in the fall. NOW members across the country wrote letters and organized activities to promote “Cagney and Lacey.” In response to massive viewer protest of the show’s cancellation in 1983, CBS renewed the series on a trial basis for seven episodes in the spring. Both “Cagney & Lacey” and the new “Kate & Allie” did very well in the ratings, consistently ranking in the top 15 network programs. ((04/30/84)

Barbra Streisand accepted NOW’s 1984 Woman of Courage Award at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles. The award was presented to Streisand by Judy Goldsmith, NOW President, at a tribute dinner sponsored by the Los Angeles NOW Education Fund. Jane Fonda was the MC for the event. (06/06/84)


Fourteen years after NOW and the Women’s Legal Defense Fund filed charges of sex discrimination in pay and promotions against Giant Foods, Inc. with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a $246,000 settlement was reached. The complaint was filed on behalf of 10 female bakery department managers, and was expanded to a class action lawsuit which involved several hundred women, whose share of the settlement ranged from hundreds to thousands of dollars in back pay. (04/84)

NOW and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDEF) filed a $2 million lawsuit against Mutual of Omaha, the largest provider of individual health and disability insurance in the country. The class action suit, filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court, charged sex discrimination in Mutual’s pricing of health and disability insurance. (08/16/84)

The NOW LDEF filed an amicus brief on its own behalf and on behalf of NOW in a landmark pay equity case in support of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The case, AFSCME v. State of Washington, was on appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The District Court in Washington (see 11/83) held that the state had discriminatorily underpaid state employees in female dominated jobs by failing to pay them their full evaluated worth. Worth had been determined in a job evaluation study undertaken at the state’s request. (11/84)

In an historic decision with far-reaching implications, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the state Equal Rights Amendment prohibited insurance companies from basing auto rates on sex. The decision, Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. v. Insurance Commissioner, represented the first time any state’s highest court had directly applied a state ERA to sex discrimination in insurance. (11/84)


Illinois NOW members greeted Reagan with a picket when he arrived in his hometown of Dixon, IL, to celebrate his birthday. (02/06/84)

NOW chapters from Connecticut to Oregon expanded the Women’s Truth Squad on Reagan to include leafleting, rallies, and voter registration, as well as pickets of Reagan’s appearances. “President Reagan is Trying to Bench Your Daughter” was the title of a leaflet on Title IX that Salem (OR) NOW distributed at girls high school basketball games. Oregon NOW leaders conducted statewide Truth Squad “Action Team Trainings” that supplied information on Reagan’s record and offered skills training in such areas as public speaking and voter registration. Chapters in Connecticut, California, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, and other states also engaged in registration activities. (03)/84)

The New York NOW Women’s Truth Squad on Reagan, braving pouring rain and whipping winds, picketed the President when he addressed the Women in Business Ownership Conference `84 luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Several NOW women attending the conference distributed leaflets inside. (04/05/84)

Polls showed that the Gender Gap continued to loom large and threaten President Reagan’s reelection. New York Times/ CBS News and Washington Post/ ABC News polls taken in April and May continued to show that 10-15% fewer women than men approved of the job Reagan was doing, and supported his bid for re-election. (06/84)

In Washington, D.C., NOW members joined with several hundred other women and men running and rallying against Reagan. The Gender Gap Run and Rally was the kick-off event for the “Gender Gap Action Campaign,” a project of the Woman’s Trust, chaired by Eleanor Smeal. The object of the Campaign was to unite peace and women’s rights advocates behind the effort to stop the Reagan revolution. (06/12/84)

The 1984 National NOW Conference, in Miami Beach, FL, urged Presidential candidate Walter Mondale to select a woman as his Vice-Presidential running mate. NOW passed a resolution, authored by Eleanor Smeal, saying if a woman was not on the ticket, NOW would take the nomination to a floor fight at the Democratic convention. (06/30/84)

In the four months preceding the 11/06 election, NOW members registered more than 250,000 new voters and NOW President, Judy Goldsmith spoke in 21 states. (1984)

Abortion rights opponents in six states tried to get referenda prohibiting state funding for abortions on the ballot in November. Five of the targeted states – Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Michigan – all provided state aid for abortions; only Arkansas already prohibited such funding. The attempt succeeded only in: Washington, Colorado and Arkansas. (07/04/84)

The Backlash

Joseph M. Scheidler, director of the Pro-Life Action League, a new breed of anti-abortion fanatic, published a book en-titled Ninety-Nine Ways to Close the Abortion Clinics. The book gave tips on various tactics designed to intimidate and terrorize women entering clinics. He boasted that complications increased 4-5% for patients on days when they protest outside. (02/84)

The anti-abortion group calling itself the “Army of God” reportedly claimed responsibility for a fire that gutted the Hillcrest Clinic in Norfolk, VA, for the second time, and threatened to destroy other clinics if abortions continue. (02/17/84)

Shortly after midnight, a fire ripped through a Prince Georges County, MD, office building, causing $70,000 worth of damage to the Prince George’s Reproductive Health Services Clinic. The incident marked the third fire-bombing of an abortion clinic within the preceding six weeks. (02/29/84)

Incidents of violence or harassment of clinics reported to the National Abortion Federation (NAF) totaled 123 in 1983. Within the first ten weeks of 1984, such incidents numbered 59. (03/02/84)

Two men entered a Birmingham, AL, clinic during office hours and told a counselor, “We’re going to take care of this place.” While one man prevented her from calling for help, the other ran through the facility destroying operating machines and birth control devices with an industrialsized sledge hammer. (05/12/84)

The insurance industry spent at least $66,400 in West Virginia during the year lobbying the Legislature not to pass a unisex insurance law. (06/84)

Anti-abortion leaders in Washington state expressed surprise at the news that one of their most ardent followers, a 29 year old roofer named Curtis Beseda, had been indicted for one of the four arson attacks on abortion clinics in the state. Before the indictment, anti-abortionists had claimed that they could not be held responsible for perpetrating or encouraging acts of violence. (06/84)

In an alarming escalation of the violence, the headquarters of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) in Washington, D.C., were bombed. While investigators were in the NAF building, they discovered a second bomb, which would have completely destroyed the building had it exploded. (07/04) Planned Parenthood of Annapolis, MD, was bombed. (07/07) The Cypress Fairbanks Clinic in Houston, TX, was bombed. (08/20) Both the West Loop Clinic and the Women’s Outpatient Clinic in Houston were fire bombed. (09/07/84)

The Clear Lake Women’s Center in Webster, TX, was torched. (09/09/84)

The Birth Control Institute in San Diego, CA, was fire bombed. (09/13/84)

The Planned Parenthood clinic in Marietta, GA, which provided no abortion services, was fire bombed. (09/20/84)

In another indication of the widening target of terrorist attacks, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, author of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, received adeath threat from the “Army of God.” (10/84)

In Wheaton, MD, there were two separate bomb attacks. (11/19/84)

Three Pensacola, FL, clinics were bombed within 15 minutes of each other. Dr. William Parmenter, whose clinic was one of those destroyed, said he was quitting. He could not find temporary space or the liability insurance to re-open. (12/25/84)

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