Sunday, October 17, 2010

40 Days, and a requiem

A giant of the pro-life community has died. I'm one of many who didn't know this great lady's amazing story:
Dr. Mildred Jefferson, the first African-American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School and the first female surgical intern at Boston City Hospital, broke many race and gender barriers during her long career as a doctor. But it was when she turned to politics, emerging four decades ago as a eloquent leader of the antiabortion movement, that she began to win a following.

Dr. Jefferson died Friday at 84, according to Anne Fox, a close friend and the president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life. The exact cause of death is unclear, but Fox said Dr. Jefferson’s health had declined two weeks before her death. [...]

Dr. Jefferson was small in stature — Fox believes she often wore hats so she would not disappear into a crowd — but she did not shrink from controversy. And she was not afraid to use blunt analogies to state her views. In a 2003 profile in the antiabortion magazine American Feminist, Dr. Jefferson said the antiabortion movement was “second only to the abolitionist movement’’ in the way it changed American thinking.

“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,’’ she told the magazine.

Read the rest of her story here.

The pro-life website Black Genocide (caution: graphic picture at link) has many facts, links and statistics about how abortion disproportionately and tragically impacts the African-American community. I'd almost be willing to bet that when African-American History month is taught in schools in February, Dr. Jefferson's name doesn't come up--or if it does, only her achievement as the first African-American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School is mentioned. Her long connection to the pro-life movement and her role as co-founder and past president of National Right to Life is probably kept quiet.

It should not be. All of us in the pro-life movement who have benefited from the pioneering leadership of great women like Dr. Jefferson should take a moment to reflect on her tireless commitment to the unborn. May God grant her eternal rest, and may we who remember her ponder those eloquent words of hers quoted above, and strengthen our own resolve that America will not become a land of the perfect, the privileged, and the planned.


Anonymous said...

Bless her heart and her memory.

Our "unplanned" - but greatly planned for when we realized he'd decided to join our lives - 22 year old is upstairs reading, and waiting for news tomorrow about whether or not he has a job.

He is the light of our lives and I wish all parents the unexpected joy of their unplanned gift. Being planned has nothing to do with being cherished.


Red Cardigan said...

That's so lovely, Elizabeth! Your son is truly blessed. :)

scotch meg said...


Mildred Jefferson was someone I was proud to know. She had broken so many barriers and worked very, very hard for life in a very hostile environment (MA). She will be missed.

scotch meg said...

More on Mildred Jefferson: