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Harriet Fleischl Pilpel

As general counsel to both Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, Harriet Fleischl Pilpel helped shape the arguments for reproductive rights in the years leading up to Roe v. Wade. Pilpel graduated from Vassar in 1932 and earned her law degree from Columbia in 1936. After graduation, she joined the firm of Greenbaum, Wolff, and Ernst, where she became involved with the birth control movement through Margaret Sanger, a client of Morris Ernst. She worked on multiple cases that went to the Supreme Court, including Tileston v. Ullman in 1943 and Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965, a major case where contraception use was defended by the right to privacy. With the ACLU, she also worked on cases that battled censorship and protected women’s rights. She mentored many young attorneys interested in reproductive rights. She also maintained an active practice in copyright law, with clients including Betty Friedan, Billy Graham, Alfred Kinsey, Mel Brooks, and Svetlana Alliluyeva (Stalin’s daughter). She was coauthor of a number of books on law for popular audiences, including Your Marriage and the Law in 1952, Rights and Writers: A Handbook of Literary and Entertainment Law in 1960, and Know Your Rights in 1965.

Harriet Fleischl Pilpel
Full image
Harriet Fleischl Pilpel.
Date of Birth
December 2, 1911
Place of Birth
Bronx, New York
Date of Death
April 23, 1991

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Harriet Fleischl Pilpel." (Viewed on December 15, 2018) <>.


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