“When I finally announced that I was going to become a doctor it broke the heart of all my friends and I was publicly disgraced. Women that I had known for years drew their skirts aside and went by on the other side of the street; men refused to bow to me….”
Those are the words by Bethenia Owens-Adair of Oregon, who became the first woman doctor in the West in 1874. That wasn’t her only distinction—she also became a national leader in the despicable sterilization movement that swept the nation in the early 1900s. Her life story shows a woman who definitely knew her mind and was hell-bent-on-leather to do it her own way.