Rosalie Silber Abrams

(1916 - 2009)

Photograph of Rosalie Abrams, MSA SC 1198

Rosalie Silber Abrams has contributed countless hours to achieve equality for women, the aging, the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled. She has been a trail blazer for women in politics, and her work in the field of health care has dominated all of her professional experiences on both the state and national level.

Rosalie Abrams has lived in Maryland her whole life. She  worked in her family business, Silbers Bakery, which is one of Maryland's most prestigious business names. From 1938-1946, she also worked as a registered nurse and served two years as an ensign in the Navy Nurse Corp. She would later take with her the valuable insight and knowledge she gained working in the health care profession into the political arena.

Elected to the House of Delegates in 1967-1970, Senator Abrams served 14 years in the Maryland State Senate. There, she became the first woman in Maryland to hold the position of Senate majority leader, the first woman in Maryland to hold the position of Senate Finance Committee chair, and the first woman chair of the Maryland Democratic

As the author of legislation creating Maryland's Health Services Cost Review Commission, Senator Abrams set into motion a national model for health care reform and cost containment. This Commission, which acts as the rate setting group for all hospitals in the state, has been responsible for keeping Maryland's hospital fees among the lowest in the nation. One of the Commission's accomplishments resulted in the all payer system for hospitals, which ensures that no citizen of or visitor to Maryland can be refused hospital treatment.

Her contributions to women are numerous. In 1980, she pushed through legislation providing for payment of doctor and hospital charges for rape and sexual offense victims. Abrams has served as a member of the Commission to study the Equal Rights Amendment and as a member of the Maryland Commission for Women. Abrams is also widely known for her contributions to the mental health community and served for many years as Chairperson for the Humane Practices Commission. She also served as the first Chairperson of the Article 59 Committee which oversaw and revised the mental health laws of the State of Maryland.

Since 1983 she has served as the Director for the Office on Aging and has helped to prepared both the government and the public for the emergence of this issue in our
society. Abrams has published numerous articles for and on older Americans and greatly enhanced health care attitudes and policies in Maryland. In 1992, she worked to get the Health Care Decision Act passed, which gave patients more control over their treatment during the last few days or weeks of their lives. Senator Abrams' career as nurse, statesperson, and now as the Director of the Maryland Office on Aging, endeavors to improve every facet of a Maryland resident's life.


© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2001