Joyce Antler

b. 1942

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Joyce Antler until we are able to commission a full entry.

Joyce Antler.

Using both field research and her own experiences posing as a pregnant woman, Joyce Antler not only helped repeal New York’s laws against abortion, but also ensured that women had real access to medical services after the law was repealed. As the only woman on the executive staff of New York City’s Health Services Administration, Antler worked tirelessly to convince the mayor to strike down the law criminalizing abortion. When the law was repealed in 1970, making New York the first state to provide abortions on demand, Antler then went into city hospitals posing as a pregnant woman to ensure women could actually use the services they were now legally entitled to. Antler then moved from administration to teaching, becoming the Samuel Lane Professor of American Jewish History and Culture at Brandeis University. She also founded Brandeis’s Women’s Studies program and chaired it for ten years. Antler taught in the American Studies department until her retirement in 2016. The author and editor of a number of books on the experiences of Jewish women in America, Antler is also founding member of the Board of the Jewish Women’s Archive and chaired its Academic Advisory Council for many years. 


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Joyce Antler." (Viewed on April 12, 2024) <>.