This week Feminists for Life honors the life of Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson, an accomplished surgeon and professor of surgery, a tireless advocate for women and children, who died Friday, October 15 at the age of 84. Feminists for Life named Dr. Jefferson a Remarkable Pro-Life Woman® in 2003.
Among her many achievements, Jefferson was the first African American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School, the first woman to serve as a surgical intern at Boston City Hospital, and the first woman to be elected to membership in the Boston Surgical Society. Twenty-eight American colleges and universities have awarded Dr. Jefferson honorary degrees in recognition of her efforts in the field of medicine and her pursuit of social justice.
Dr. Jefferson said she "became a physician in order to help save lives." When reading her words, we cannot help being reminded of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree from an American medical school and first woman on the British medical register, whose career had a similar motive. Blackwell wrote, "The gross perversion and destruction of motherhood by the abortionist filled me with indignation, and awakened active antagonism. That the honorable term 'female physician' should be exclusively applied to those women who carried on this shocking trade seemed to me a horror. It was an utter degradation of what might and should become a noble position for women…. I finally determined to do what I could do 'to redeem the hells,' and especially the one form of hell thus forced upon my notice."
Regarding her own career, Jefferson asserted, "I am at once a physician, a citizen, and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow this concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged, and the planned have the right to live."
Dr. Jefferson, who called the pro-life movement "second only to the abolitionist movement in the profound change it has brought about in American thinking," helped to found the National Right to Life Committee, which she served both as president and as a member of the board. She was a founding member, past president, and board member of the Value of Life Committee of Massachusetts and Massachusetts Citizens for Life, and headed the Right to Life Crusade.
Jefferson also encouraged pro-life college and university students to organize. "If I had my way," she said, "there would be a pro-life group on every college campus here in the United States and in its territories…. I hope that wherever you [students] have a department of women's studies or black studies that you will have a corresponding pro-life movement."
It was Dr. Mildred Jefferson who recommended that the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, part of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, seek Feminists for Life's archives for inclusion in their collection. The Schlesinger Library believes "that Feminists for Life [archives] will complement the existing feminist collections and add a powerful story of strong women and their efforts."
"It was always an honor when Dr. Jefferson would attend a campus lecture, or share FFL's message on her television show," said FFL President Serrin Foster, "And I was so pleased that she was able to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum in Adams, Massachusetts, on February 14, 2010, the eve of Susan B. Anthony's 190th birthday. In so many ways Dr. Jefferson truly walked in the footsteps of the abolitionist and suffragist leader."
The board and staff of Feminists for Life extend their heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Mildred Jefferson. "Her legacy will live on in our pro-life feminist work on college campuses and beyond," Foster said.
[18 Oct 10, www.feministsforlife.org; "Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion." ]
Human Life Alliance mourns the loss of Dr. Mildred Jefferson who passed away Friday at the age of 84.
Dr. Jefferson, the first African-American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School and the first female surgical intern at Boston City Hospital, was also a pioneer and leader in the pro-life movement. She was one of the founders of National Right to Life.
Dr. Jefferson said the anti-abortion movement was "second only to the abolitionist movement'' in the way it changed American thinking. In a 2003 interview for American Feminist magazine, Dr. Jefferson said "I am at once a physician, a citizen, and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow this concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged, and the planned have the right to live.''
We remember Dr. Jefferson as an eloquent, articulate lady of great wisdom, intellect and dignity. Her leadership and inspiration will be greatly missed. Our condolences to family and friends.
Interview of Dr. Jefferson — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M40yHN6ndlQ
[October 18, 2010, HLA Weekly Wire]
MILDRED FAY JEFFERSON, M.D. (1926-2010) … REST IN PEACE
Mildred Fay Jefferson, M.D., past board member of American Life League, past president of the National Right to Life Committee, The Right to Life Crusade and recipient of 28 honorary degrees, went quietly to meet the Lord late last week at the age of 84.
Dr. Jefferson was a heroic, inspiring, yet humble, leader who made her mark on the history books in many ways-including being the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School.
If you were to ask Mildred what her greatest achievement in life had been, she would have told you it was being devoted-with every fiber of her being-to the preborn babies whose lives she defended eloquently from the moment she learned about abortion in the late 1960s until the moment of her death last week.
Not a day went by without her sounding the call to stop abortion-addressing the most egregious human rights violation in the history of mankind-and doing all that was humanly possible for one strong woman to do to expose the criminal act of abortion. She often told me that she prayed daily for God to give her the strength to move forward and to ignite the spark of zealous indignation among the people of this nation so that they would carry the banner for the babies until victory was achieved.
While we cannot lay her to rest knowing that she achieved her goal, we can do so knowing that, without her, this pro-life, human rights movement would never have grown to the historic proportions it has. Nor would we be as motivated to carry on for the babies, for the Lord-their Creator-and for her.
Mildred endeared herself to countless thousands of Americans who will miss her smile, her words of leadership and guidance, her ever-wise advice and her counsel. Through our tears, however, we understand that she would not want us to dwell on her passing, but to carry the torch she lit so many years ago. And she would not want us to look back. She'd say we must always look forward to embrace the challenges that lie ahead for the preborn, the elderly and the infirm.
The world has lost a great leader the likes of which will never pass this way again. We herald her remarkable accomplishments; we celebrate her life of valor, commitment, leadership, deep faith and love; we mourn her passing and we resolve never to stop defending the children who meant the world to Mildred Fay Jefferson, M.D. She g
ave her life in their service; we will not let her memory die.
[18 Oct 2010, ALL Pro-LIfe Today]
Dr. Mildred Jefferson, a long-time pro-life activist and a founder and past president of the National Right to Life Committee, passed away yesterday at the age of 84 yrs.
Although her pro-life activism was the most prominent aspect of her life, she had many other accomplishments. She was the first African American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School. This wikipedia article cites many other "firsts" for Dr. Jefferson.
She also voiced well-founded criticism of the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party towards minorities and the poor. Think about it – the so-called "party of the little man" and "party of compassion" espouses and facilitates the murders of the littlest amongst us who stand in most need of compassion. She saw through that set of smoke and mirrors. That's why I doubt that you'll see any feminazi group such as NOW pay any sort of tribute to the strides she made.
Dr. Jefferson, rest in peace – and pray for us who carry on the pro-life battle on earth!
[Sunday, October 17, 2010, http://restore-dc-catholicism.blogspot.com/2010/10/dr-mildred-jefferson-requiescat-in-pace.html]