Reporting | Sexuality

Mildred Jefferson: 'A Physician, a Citizen, and a Woman'

Jefferson, an eloquent leader of the pro-life movement and the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School, died October 15.

There are few who can discuss abortion from as many perspectives as those held by Mildred Jefferson—the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School and a lifelong pro-life activist, who passed away on October 15 at age 84.

She could talk about it as a doctor. She could talk about it as a woman. And, she could talk about it as a black woman.

Born to a Methodist minister in east Texas, Jefferson earned degrees from Texas College and Tufts University before graduating from Harvard in 1951. A surgical internship at Boston City Hospital eventually led to another trailblazing accomplishment: becoming the first female doctor at the former Boston University Medical Center.

Jefferson's involvement in the pro-life movement was prompted in the 1970s by a resolution passed by the American Medical Association allowing members to perform abortions if the procedure was legal in their states. She helped to found the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and served as its president for ...

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