Former US Rep. Patricia Schroeder of Colorado, a longtime Democratic congresswoman who championed women’s rights, has died. She was 82.
Schroeder died Monday night in a hospital in Celebration, Florida, surrounded by her family, her daughter, Jamie Cornish, confirmed to CNN. The cause was complications from a stroke, Cornish said.
First elected to the US House of Representatives in 1972, Schroeder went on to serve in Congress for more than two decades, becoming known as a forceful voice on issues from women’s reproductive rights to arms control, according to a House biography.
She earned a seat on what was at the time an all-male Armed Services Committee.
Born in Portland, Oregon, to an aviation insurance salesman and a public school teacher, Schroeder would go on to be a pilot and graduate from Harvard Law School. She had two children when she was elected to Congress.
“When I was growing up,” Schroeder said, according to her house biography, “my father was always interested in politics and he talked about it. The dinner table conversations were always very vivid about what was going on.”
Schroeder reflected in her memoir, “24 Years of Housework…and the Place Is Still a Mess: My Life in Politics,” on being one of just 14 women in the House when she was first elected.
“The women in Congress had to wage virtually every battle alone,” she wrote, “whether we were fighting for female pages (there were none) or a place where we could pee.”
By the late 1980s, the congresswoman had become recognizable on Capitol Hill, “battling Republicans on military spending, reproductive rights, or workplace reform measures,” according to her bio. She also coined the term “Teflon president,” denouncing then-President Ronald Reagan’s popularity despite the Iran-Contra scandal.