Dr. Marie Equi|
(April 7, 1872 - July 13, 1952) U.S.A.
Dr. Marie Equi, who was born one hundred and forty-five years ago today, was a progressive political activist, and open lesbian whose radical politics - and particularly her vehement opposition to American involvement in World War I - led to her conviction and imprisonment under the Espionage Act.
Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Equi left life in the mills and joined her high school girlfriend, Bessie Holcomb, on an Oregon homestead. In 1897, the couple moved to San Francisco, where Equi began studying medicine; in 1903, Equi relocated to Portland, Oregon - without Holcomb - and completed her medical studies at the University of Oregon. She met Harriet Speckart, with whom she had her longest relationship, in 1905; the couple adopted an infant girl in 1915.
As one of the first sixty women to become a physician in Oregon, Dr. Equi focused her practice on the health concerns of women and children. At some point between 1905 and 1915, Equi started to provide abortions, often charging wealthy patients more for the procedure to help cover the costs for poorer patients. She also was an active member of Portland's Birth Control League, disseminating information about birth control even when such activity was illegal.
Dr. Equi was involved with several campaigns to secure women's right to vote in Oregon.
After supporting a 1913 workers' strike, Equi's politics grew increasingly radical. During the lead-up to World War I, she was particularly outspoken in her opposition to American involvement, and she continued to protest after the U.S. entered the war. Her resistance brought her to the attention of the American government and she soon faced charges under the Espionage Act; Equi served ten months in San Quentin State Prison.
After her release, Dr. Equi returned to her medical practice, and she led a relatively quiet life.
Dr. Marie Equi died on July 13, 1952; she was eighty.