2005 Award Recipient: Louise B. Tyrer, MD, FACOG

“We can’t go back; we cannot go back. We’ve seen what happens to women when they don’t have the option to control their own fertility. We’ve seen them die. We can’t let that happen. We might end up with a constitutional amendment banning all forms of abortion. That could happen if the people of this country don’t stand up to be counted and say that we will not permit rights for reproductive care of any kind to be taken away.”

Louise B. Tyrer, MD, FACOG, is Consultant in Family Planning and Medical Director Emeritus for the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. She is a pioneer as a woman in medicine, as a reproductive health activist, and as a force for change in medical education, healthcare systems, and advocacy.

After completing training as one of only five women in her medical school, Dr Tyrer’s iconic career included providing care to many thousands of women, training physicians, and conducting seminal research. She has held leadership positions in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.

Beginning her career in private practice in California and Nevada, in 1971 she became Director of the Division of Family Planning of ACOG and served as Project Director of two innovative federally funded programs, the Interconceptional Care Program and the Physician Education Program in Family Planning. From 1975 until 1991, she served as Vice President of PPFA, where her research activities included acting as principal investigator on original biomedical and sociological research. Other research activities included studies in the Program for Applied Research on Fertility Regulation.

From 1991 until 2005, Dr. Tyrer served as the Medical Director for the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, as well as the Northern Nevada Branch of Marmonte Planned Parenthood. She has held faculty appointments at the University of California-San Francisco, Rush Medical College in Chicago, and Cornell University in New York.

Dr. Tyrer is a true peer of Dr. Ryan, a superb teacher, an effective administrator, an accomplished researcher, and a strong advocate for high ethical values. As a pioneering provider, educator, leader, and advocate, Dr. Tyrer’s commitment to reproductive healthcare has been an inspiration to a myriad of young women and men considering careers in reproductive health.

“We did the best we could. Every day there were women dying, and the load of carrying that around was a shock to my system. But I stayed because they needed us. All those [pre-Roe] deaths made me very strongly pro-choice, so I had to spend my time, energy and money to try to change the law so that women in this country didn’t have to die from having botched abortions here or elsewhere.”