Mildred Fay Jefferson, Requiescat In Pace

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Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson, tireless crusader for the unborn, died on Saturday October 16, 2010 at age 84.  Born in Carthage, Texas in 1927, she overcame all the disadvantages of being black in the Jim Crow South to be the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School in 1951 and, additionally, the first female surgeon to graduate from that school.   She was professor of surgery at Boston University.  After Roe she helped found the National Right to Life Committee and was President of the Committee for three terms.  She never ceased to speak out for the unborn.

I helped found the first student pro-life group at the University of Illinois.  We brought Dr. Jefferson to the campus as a speaker in 1978.  She gave a magnificent and moving speech, and dealt with pro-abort hecklers with aplomb.  She tied in the struggle of blacks to be viewed as more than chattel property with the struggle to recognize the humanity of unborn children.  She had a hilarious sense of humor and her visit was a joy to everyone who met her.  For such an accomplished woman she was as friendly as if she had been a neighbor stopping by for a chat.  She made a vast impression upon me that evening.    May she now be enjoying the Beatific Vision.

“In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court looked at the slave, Dred Scott, and came up with the wrong decision, declaring the slave as ‘property’ and not a ‘citizen’ under the U.S. Constitution. The slave’s life was still protected. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court got it wrong again and handed down decisions on abortion which declared ‘open season’ on unborn children throughout the full nine months of pregnancy. After 44 million abortions, most people have not noticed that the population descended from U.S. African slaves, comprising around 12% of the population, make up about 35% of the abortion population. This means that more Americans of African descent have died in the abortion chambers than have died in all the years of slavery and lynchings.”

Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson

3 Responses to Mildred Fay Jefferson, Requiescat In Pace

  • Dr. Mildred Jefferson was a constant inspiration to me both before and after I became National Director of Priests for Life. In recent years, I especially enjoyed talking with her about the history of the movement and the strategies for the future. She always spoke about the movement with a fresh enthusiasm, vision, and readiness to carry out the work. She did not carry her many years of service as a burden, but as a source of strength! May we all drink of that same spirit!

    Moreover, her passing should remind us of our duty to reflect on and record the history of our movement, and pass it on to the younger generations of pro-life activists. Those who have brought the pro-life movement to where it is now will not be with us forever, and their wisdom is a treasure which we should explore while we still have the opportunity to do so.

  • Quite right Father. A history of the pro-life movement by pro-lifers is needed, as giants like Dr. Jefferson pass from the scene.

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