Mildred Fay Jefferson

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Mildred Fay Jefferson, M.D.
Mildred Fay Jefferson, M.D..jpg
President of the National Right to Life Committee
In office
Chairman of the Board, National Right to Life Committee
In office
Vice President of the National Right to Life Committee
In office
Personal details
Born (1926-04-04)April 4, 1926
Carthage, Texas
Died October 15, 2010(2010-10-15) (aged 84)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Political party Republican
Alma mater Harvard Medical School
Occupation Surgeon
Religion Methodist

Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson (April 4, 1926 – October 15, 2010[1]) was an American physician and political activist. A graduate from Harvard Medical School, she is known for her opposition to the legalization of abortion and her work with the National Right to Life Committee.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Pittsburg, Texas, Jefferson was the only child of Millard and Guthrie Jefferson, a Methodist minister and a school teacher. Jefferson was raised in Carthage, Texas.[2] At a young age "Millie" followed the town doctor around on his horse drawn buggy, this would later inspire her to become a doctor.

At 16 she earned her bachelor's degree from Texas College. Since she was too young to attend medical school, she went to Tufts University where she received her master's degree. She then went on to Harvard Medical School and graduated in 1951, becoming the first black woman to do so.[3]


After graduating from medical school, she did a surgical internship at Boston City Hospital, becoming the first woman to do so. She was also the first female doctor at the former Boston University Medical Center.[4] She would later become the first woman to become a member of the Boston Surgical Society.

Pro-Life work[edit]

It was around 1970 when Jefferson became one of the founders of Massachusetts Citizens for Life. She later helped found the National Right to Life Committee. In 1971, she became a member of the NRLC Board of Directors. She became the Vice President of National Right to Life in 1973 and then was elected as Chairman of the Board the following year. Mildred then was elected as President of NRLC in 1975 until 1978.[5]

Mildred Jefferson meeting with Ronald Reagan, 1981

It was in 1980 that Dr. Jefferson helped the National Right to Life Committee start a Political Action Committee because she believed it was important to lobby and support Pro-Life candidates for office. While a Republican, she helped democrat Ellen McCormack run for the Democratic Party Nominee for President in 1976. Apart from NRLC, Jefferson served on the Board of Directors of more than 30 Pro-life organizations.

Jefferson is also noted for changing Ronald Reagan's stance on Abortion from Pro-choice to Pro-life. He stated to her in a letter;

"You have made it irrefutably clear that an abortion is the taking of a human life, I am grateful to you."
-Ronald Reagan, a letter to Mildred Jefferson'[5]

Political activism[edit]

Jefferson was a self-described "Lincoln Republican" and served on the 1980 Massachusetts Reagan for President Campaign. She also unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for the 1982, 1990, and 1994 U.S. Senate elections.


Jefferson died in her Cambridge home on October 15, 2010 at the age of 84. She was divorced and had no children. She was buried in her hometown of Carthage, Texas.

Dr. Jefferson at the 2010 Rhode Island Right to Life Conference


External links[edit]