Carleton Connection: Jane Hodgson '34


Who was Jane Elizabeth Hodgson, M.D.?

Jane Hodgson was born in Crookston, MN in 1915 (d. 2006). Hodgson received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Carleton College in 1934 and obtained her medical degree in obstetrics and gynecology from the University of Minnesota in 1939. After training at Mayo Clinic, Hodgson served all over the world for Project Hope and opened a clinic in St. Paul, MN in 1947 providing health care to women for 50 years. She did early research on pregnancy testing methods and became a founding fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She also co-founded the Duluth Women's Health Center in 1981.

From her work abroad, she realized that "a woman's place in society was directly related to the availability of abortion services, contraception, and family planning services. In countries where it was all illegal, women were much were worse off as far as their overall rights, health care, and poverty levels." So, she fought for women's reproductive rights for the rest of her life.

Hodgson in the courts:

In 1970, before the 1973 Roe v. Wade descision, Hodgson challenged Minnesota's abortion laws when she performed an abortion for a 23 year old mother of three who had contracted rubella, which can cause serious birth defects, during her fourth pregnancy. She did so at the St. Paul-Ramsey Hospital (now, Regions Hospital). At the time, abortion was illegal in Minnesota, so she was charged and pled guilty. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail, making this the first time a licensed physician had been convicted for performing an abortion in a hospital. Her conviction was overturned after the Roe v. Wade ruling.

In 1981, Planned Parenthood, using her name, brought a case against Minnesota challenging the state law that required both parents to be notified at least 48 hours before a minor has an abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the two-parent notification in favor of a one-parent notification requirement; the rest of the law was upheld based on the judicial bypass provision (a judge could overturn the parental-notification requirement). This case is known as Hodgson v. Minnesota.

In 1993, Hodgson acted as a co-plantiff in a case in which the judge struck down Minnesota's ban on Medicaid payments for abortions.

Just a few awards she received:

National Abortions Federation's Christopher Tietze Humanitarian Award, 1981

Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Margaret Sanger Award, 1995

American Medical Women's Association's National Reproductive Health Award, 1994

She was also one of the first physicians inducted into the International Women in Medicine Hall of Fame (2001).

Want to read something by this incredible woman?

Hodgson, Jane E (1981). Abortion and sterilization: medical and social aspects. Boston: Academic Press. ISBN 0-8089-1344-1.

Hodgson, JE (1998). "The Twentieth-Century Gender Battle: Difficulties in Perception". In Solinger, Rickie. Abortion Wars: A Half Century of Struggle, 1950-2000. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 290–306. ISBN 0-520-20256-2.

Want to read more about her?

Changing the face of Medicine -- Dr. Jane E. Hodgson

Hodgson v. Minnesota

Jane Hodgson, 91, Supporter of Abortion Rights, is Dead -- NYTimes