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Ruth Finkelstein

“During my internship I started the Adolescent Clinic for Sexually Active Girls. Then I worked with Bessie Moses in the Bureau for Contraceptive Advice. I felt—‘every child, a wanted child.’ ” – Ruth Finkelstein

A beloved doctor for generations of Baltimore women, Dr. Ruth Finkelstein promoted women's health and reproductive rights over a career that spanned half a century. Born in 1909, Ruth was raised in the Bronx and attended the Jacobi School, a private academy for Jewish girls. With her father's strong support, despite limited financial means, Ruth came to Baltimore to study at Johns Hopkins University. She went on to become the first female student accepted from the undergraduate program into their medical school. After graduating in 1935, she was denied entry into surgery as a specialty because of her gender. Ruth decided to focus on obstetrics and remained in the field for over fifty years. Early in her career, Ruth worked as an assistant in Dr. Bessie Moses's Bureau for Contraceptive Advice (a forerunner of Planned Parenthood), which led to her active involvement in family planning issues. She married Harry Greenberg in 1942 and, with his encouragement, established a private practice in the early 1940s. After the birth of their two children, Emily and David, she juggled motherhood and career, creating clinics and programs focused on reproductive health for women and serving on the board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Ruth assisted and counseled numerous women who were unable to obtain legal abortions prior to the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. Ruth Finkelstein died on April 7, 2002.

Dr. Ruth Finkelstein
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Dr. Ruth Finkelstein
Photo courtesy of Joan Roth.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Dr. Ruth Finkelstein." (Viewed on July 31, 2014) <http://jwa.org/communitystories/baltimore/narrators/finkelstein-ruth>.

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