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Amy Laiken Biography by Amy Laiken(1999)

While at a meeting of the Abortion Task Force in 1974, I became aware of the Health Evaluation and Referral Service (HERS) and joined almost immediately. In the early years of HERS I was mostly a telephone counselor, which frequently involved referring women to various health facilities when they requested such referrals. In conjunction with at least one other woman, I also performed on site clinic inspections. Shortly after joining HERS and learning that it was a work group of the Chicago Womens Liberation Union, I decided that it was a good idea to become active in the larger umbrella womens organization. In 1975 I served on the CWLU steering committee as a representative of HERS, and also taught Spanish in the Liberation School. After the CWLU disbanded in 1976, HERS was incorporated as an independent entity, and I served on its board of directors until 1984.

While answering the telephone at HERS I acquired skills in listening and responding to women in stressful situations. Those experiences led me to enroll in graduate school, where I earned a masters degree in counseling. I also believed that my involvement in the Chicago Womens Liberation Union prepared me to assume leadership positions in two other womens reproductive rights organizations, and in the anti-nuclear and anti-intervention movements.