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Jean Pakter.(William E. Sauro/NYT)

Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. Today it’s that of Dr. Jean Pakter, who died Tuesday at 101. She seems like something of a Robert Moses of women’s rights: working for more than two decades from an innocuous-sounding New York City post (head of the bureau of maternity services and family planning), through her policymaking and research she had seismic effects on several of the revolutions that constituted what we now call “the ’60s.” Her report on out-of-wedlock children among black families was cited in Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s (in)famous 1965 memorandum. She actively and successfully campaigned to legalize abortion in New York state in pre-Roe 1970; in fact, a report she published was cited in the majority opinion of the Supreme Court case that enshrined as constitutionally protected the right to choose. Of course, more mundanely but no less importantly, she also set rules for the treatment of women and newborns during the first 12 weeks after birth, and the like. After all, she was, in the end, a doctor.

Jean Pakter, Who Made New York a Model For Safe Abortions, Dies at 101 [NYT]





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