Who Was Louise Slaughter? Trailblazing Democratic Congresswoman Dies at Age 88

Democratic U.S. Representative Louis Slaughter of New York has died at the age of 88 following injuries suffered in a fall, her office confirmed Friday. Slaughter, the first woman to lead the House Committee on Rules, was a leading voice both for women in the House and for New York representatives.

"To have met Louise Slaughter is to have known a force of nature," her former chief of staff, Liam Fitzsimmons, said in a statement. "She was a relentless advocate for western New York whose visionary leadership brought infrastructure upgrades, technology and research investments, and two federal manufacturing institutes to Rochester that will transform the local economy for generations to come."

Slaughter, the oldest member of the House, was serving her 16th term in Congress, having first arrived in Washington as a representative from New York in 1987. Born in Kentucky, she moved to New York after gaining a master's degree in public health from the University of Kentucky.

Oh my goodness. This is stunning news. Louise Slaughter was one of the sharpest, funniest and nicest women in Congress. Ranking member of the House Rules Committee. Lot of people will be upset over this. https://t.co/BzJLdRkZjq

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) March 16, 2018

She combined both her educational background (as the only microbiologist in Congress) and the status of being a leading female voice in the House in much of the legislation she advocated for. In 1990, she led the push to establish the national Office of Research on Women's Health.

"For 25 years, the Office of Research on Women's Health has improved the lives of women across the country and improved the way our nation conducts biomedical research," she said when marking the office's 25th anniversary in 2015. "That's why I'm so proud to have helped create this vital office and to have led the fight to ensure that women are not left out of federally supported health research. Before we took action, it was standard practice to provide health care based on research that excluded more than half of the world's population."

Slaughter was also a leading advocate for Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010.

Slaughter was hospitalized after suffering a concussion from falling at her home in Washington last week. The announcement of her death came just a day after Fitzsimmons said she would recover from the fall, calling her "tough as nails."