Bella Abzug walked into the headquarters of the American Newspaper Women's Club last night without much fanfare. She pinned a nametag on her tailored suit, excused herself to make two phone calls, took her seat lat on a panel of wellknown feminists, and made her opening statement last.
"My mother told me I should always speak up," she said in a firm but gentle voice, "and I'm very thankful to her."
She followed Mary crisp, the co-chairman of the Republican National Committee; Gretta Dewald, head of the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee; and Marjorie Chambers, acting chairman of the President's Advisory Committee on Women since Abzug was fired recently from the position by President Carter.
In the room crowded with women, each panelist spoke about the issues facing women today, and all agreed ratification of the Euqal Rights Amendment (ERA) was the main issue and goal for women. They streesed education of Women on jsut what the ERA involved -- basic human rights for women."We're not trying to get equality to have as many abortions as men," Chambers pointed out as the discussion touched on how to separate controversial women's issues from ERA.
"We're all in agreement," said Abzug of the panelists who had been on the National Adivsory Committee on Women together, "whether we resigned, or whether we stayed, or whether we were saked. We still have to work together for out goals."
Chambers and Dewalld are still on that committee. Crisp resigned along with 22 others in protest over Abzug's firing. Abzug said the committee cannot be effective right now in its goal of advising the president and administration on the implementation of equal rights for women.
"That doesn't mean that people and organizations will not be doing work," Abzug said, "but a cloud exists over the committee. It won't be the most credible way to achieve our goals now."
But acting chairman Chambers spoke up saying, "I wouldn't say we're the strongest committee in the country right now... but that doesn't mean we've lost our credibility. The women remaining are just as strong as those who left about pursuing goals."
"It's not the women," said Abzug later, "they're all good members."