Rowine Hayes Brown, M.D., studied law at night school to help her answer some of the legal and ethical questions she faced as a pediatrician. After graduating from law school in 1961, she became a leading advocate for children's rights, and in 1973 helped draft the first statutes dealing with child abuse in the history of Illinois law.
Rowine Hayes graduated from Stanford University in 1933 and then enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. She was one of only 7 women in her class of 160. After earning her medical degree in 1939 and interning in pediatrics, Dr. Hayes became the chief resident of pediatrics at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She was also a clinical instructor in pediatrics at the University of Illinois. In 1950, she was appointed administrator of the County Children's Hospital (now Cook County Hospital) in Chicago. She made regular rounds as a clinician and continued to complete the administrative duties required of her position. In 1973, she became the first woman medical director of the hospital.
While serving as a hospital administrator, Dr. Brown found she had to answer an increasing number of medical questions that had serious legal ramifications, but which had rarely been explicitly and formally addressed. After the death of her husband in 1952, a family friend who knew of her interest in the law encouraged her to go to night school. After eight years of evening classes, in addition to a full schedule as a clinician and administrator, Dr. Brown earned her doctor of law degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology's Kent College of Law in 1961.
As a clinician, she had seen numerous cases of child abuse. She became one of the nation's leading child advocates, and began to lecture at every hospital in Chicago on children's rights to medical care and issues of rape, domestic violence, child abuse, incest, lead poisoning, and public health issues affecting the young.
She was named to a state commission child abuse and helped draft the first statutes dealing with the issue in the history of Illinois law, and was also appointed to a state task force on the rights of children during medical procedures, including children's rights to informed consent. Her published writing aimed to help both practitioners and administrators deal with the numerous legal issues involved in the care of children, to the benefit and protection of both parties.
Throughout her career Dr. Brown continued to teach a seminar in medical law at her alma mater, the Kent College of Law, from 1971 until well after she retired from her clinical practice. She was fascinated by teaching, noting that she learned a great deal from her students as they continued to work through the many legal and ethical questions that medical practitioners have to consider.
By the end of her career she had garnered a "bucketful of awards," as she called them, including several alumni awards from the University of Illinois and the Illinois Institute of Technology's Kent College of Law, as well as the Mary Thompson M.D. Award, given to an outstanding woman physician in the Chicago area.