Ruth Abrams

The first woman to serve on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Ruth Abrams upheld the rights of women and minorities throughout her career. Abrams faced significant hurdles in becoming a lawyer; she was one of only 13 women to graduate from her class at Harvard Law School in 1956. After her first job working in private practice with her brother, she worked in the District Attorney’s office, served as staff counsel for the Supreme Judicial Court, and then as a Superior Court Judge. Abrams became the first woman on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1978. As a judge, Abrams fought for issues including family leave, medical care, gender equity, and minority rights. In her first case on women’s rights, when an insurance company refused to cover medical expenses for pregnancy, she ruled that the company could only do this if they also refused to cover male-specific conditions. A believer in mentoring young women in the field, Abrams often counseled, “Always look back and take another woman with you.” She retired in 2000. Ruth Abrams was honored at the 2001 Women Who Dared event in Boston.


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Ruth Abrams, the first female justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, July, 2001.

Date of Birth

Newton, MA
United States

Lawyer, Judge

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ruth Abrams." (Viewed on April 20, 2021) <>.


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