Obituary: Peg Yorkin, an Iconic Feminist Philanthropist, Passes Away at 96

**Peg Yorkin: A Feminist Philanthropist and Activist**

Peg Yorkin, a renowned feminist philanthropist and activist, passed away at the age of 96. She co-founded the Feminist Majority Foundation in 1987, an organization dedicated to women’s equality, reproductive health, and non-violence. Throughout her life, she made significant contributions to championing women’s rights and access to abortion. Yorkin’s efforts extended beyond reproductive rights, as she also worked to increase female representation in political offices. Let us delve into her remarkable achievements and contributions.

**A Leader in Feminist Philanthropy**

Peg Yorkin was the chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation, a national organization she co-founded in 1987. This foundation has been at the forefront of advocacy for women’s equality, reproductive health, and non-violence. Yorkin’s leadership and activism made her a prominent figure in the feminist movement. Her dedication to these causes earned her the respect and admiration of her peers.

**Advocacy for Access to Abortion**

In 1990, Yorkin, along with other feminist leaders and scientists, embarked on a journey to Europe to present petitions to pharmaceutical companies. Their objective was to demand the release of mifepristone, the most common method of abortion, to the United States. This action was in response to anti-abortion groups seeking to hinder its availability in the country. Yorkin’s involvement in this initiative exemplified her commitment to advancing reproductive rights.

**A Generous Donation for Empowerment**

In a bold move, Peg Yorkin announced in 1991 that she would donate $10 million to the Feminist Majority Foundation. Half of this substantial gift was dedicated to bringing the abortion pill, mifepristone, to the United States. Yorkin’s belief in empowering women led her to take a decisive action that aligned with her convictions. She called on women who shared her anger to join her in using their financial resources to effect change.

**Successes in Reproductive Rights**

Thanks in part to Yorkin’s efforts, mifepristone was approved for use in the United States in 2000. This medication has provided a safe and effective method for more than 5 million people to terminate their pregnancies. However, the drug has faced opposition from anti-abortion groups, such as Christian conservatives. A current lawsuit aims to overturn the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone. Despite these challenges, Yorkin’s determination and support for reproductive rights have made a lasting impact.

**Advocacy for Female Political Representation**

In addition to her work in reproductive rights, Peg Yorkin was a staunch advocate for increasing the number of women in political office. She spearheaded the “Feminization of Power” campaign, aiming to recruit potential female candidates for state legislatures and Congress. This comprehensive initiative spanned multiple states and sought to empower women to run for and win seats in political offices. Yorkin recognized the importance of female representation in shaping policies that directly affect women.

**A Multi-Faceted Career**

Before becoming actively involved in women’s rights, Peg Yorkin produced live theater in Los Angeles. In 1986, she collaborated with Eleanor Smeal, then-president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), to produce NOW’s 20th-anniversary event. The event showcased the progress made in advancing women’s rights and featured prominent television and film celebrities. Yorkin’s dedication led her to produce a video of the show, which has become a valuable resource in women’s studies and is available in libraries.

**A Remarkable Life**

Peg Yorkin was born in New York City on April 16, 1927, to Dora and Frank Diem. She attended Roosevelt High School in Yonkers and received a scholarship to study at Barnard College. At 16 years old, she left Barnard to attend the Neighborhood Playhouse, where she received dance instruction from renowned dancer Martha Graham.

In Los Angeles, she met Bud Yorkin, a budding director known for shows like “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.” The couple married in 1954 and had two children, Nicole and David, before divorcing in 1986. Nicole and David followed in their parents’ footsteps and became television writers. In addition to her children, Yorkin is survived by four grandchildren.

**Honoring Peg Yorkin’s Legacy**

Peg Yorkin’s immense contributions to the feminist movement, reproductive rights, and political empowerment for women leave an enduring legacy. As a feminist philanthropist, leader, and activist, Yorkin fearlessly fought to secure equal rights and access to reproductive healthcare for women. Her dedication will continue to inspire and empower future generations to advocate for gender equality and social justice.

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