I am a human rights attorney who works in service of reproductive justice — applying my legal calling to ensuring that that everyone has the rights and resources they need to determine if, when, and how to get pregnant, give birth, and maintain a family. I am Senior Counsel for the SIA Legal Team, which transforms the legal landscape so people who end their own pregnancies can do so with dignity and without punishment. The SIA Legal Team came into being because of questions from advocates in the reproductive health and justice movements who were alarmed by a simultaneous decrease in access to abortion in clinics and a rise in prosecutions of people who ended their own pregnancies.
We discovered TWP shortly after we finished our report Roe’s Unfinished Promise: Decriminalizing Abortion Once and For All. In conducting a 50-state survey of the ways that people have been criminalized for ending their own pregnancies, we noticed that the states in which the law makes people vulnerable to criminalization are not always the ones one might expect. For instance, my (adopted) home state of New York enjoys relatively good access to abortion care, but people who opt-out or are pushed out of the formal medical systems can be criminalized under a “self-abortion” law from the 1800s.
The research led us to start looking for the folks who are doing the critical work of improving their own state laws in ways that would halt the criminalization of self-managed abortion. Some of this work comes from policy advocates, but I believe that the real magic happens when ordinary folks start telling their stories and demand accountability from their lawmakers. TWP, of course, is one of these groups, and you’re in increasingly good company as people have been jolted awake by the changes sweeping our country. Groups like TWP give me hope that even while it feels like things are crashing down around us, there are people committed to making progress wherever we can. Our purpose as lawyers is to break down the barriers and help that happen.