Introducing our 2014-2015 Resident Bloggers!

We are so excited to introduce our seven resident bloggers — each of whom will bring their perspective to a host of reproductive justice issues each month. If you are interested in blogging for LSRJ, please send us an email at

SJ ChapmanSJ Chapman is an associate at Bielski Law Office, Ltd. in Chicago, IL.  She is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and Northwestern Law School.  At Northwestern, SJ served as Co-President of the Human Rights Project and Secretary of LSRJ.  SJ studies and writes in the field of critical familism and international adoption.  You can read more at her home blog, or contact her directly at



Anne KeyworthAnne Keyworth is a 2L at North Carolina Central University and ultimately hopes to do legal and policy work in reproductive rights. She has been a longtime advocate of reproductive justice and currently facilitates a women’s group in Cary, NC that focuses on inspiring, educating, and engaging people to invest in programs that make a meaningful difference for women and girls. Being from North Carolina – a state that is currently a battleground for reproductive rights – Anne believes that groups like LSRJ will help foster and prepare the next generation of reproductive justice advocates in working towards a more safe, just, and healthy society. Her campus LSRJ chapter is just getting started at NCCU this year and Anne is excited about engaging people on her campus. Her main interests include reproductive justice in the criminal justice system and in prisons, abortion access, and the impacts of healthcare legislation and litigation on low income women.

Amy Krupinski is currently a law clerk for a Minnesota district court judge. She graduated from William Mitchell College of Law with a J.D. in May 2014. During law school, Amy was a law clerk for a solo practitioner working in the products liability field, and a law clerk for the Public Health Law Center in St. Paul, MN, where she did research on tobacco legislation. During law school, Amy was an active member and co-president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice. Prior to law school, Amy lived in Denver, CO, where she was the Public Education and Research Associate for NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado for four years. During that time she worked on the Prevention First social marketing campaign aimed to increase contraceptive use among women in their 20’s. Prior to that, Amy attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned her B.A. in Political Science with certificates in Global Cultures and European Studies. While at UW-Madison, Amy was a summer intern for NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin where she was the grassroots organizer.

Rhiannon DiClementeRhiannon DiClemente is a 2L at Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia. As a Temple Law and Public Policy Scholar, she has written and presented on the intersection of global LGBT rights promotion and sexual and reproductive health within U.S. foreign development work. During her 1L summer, she worked to promote global sexual and reproductive health and rights through U.S. foreign assistance reform as a legal intern at the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). At Temple Law, Rhiannon is a staff editor of Temple Law Review, Chair of Temple Law Students for Reproductive Justice and Co-chair of Temple’s National Lawyers Guild chapter. Ms. DiClemente graduated from The George Washington University with a B.A. in International Development and Latin American Studies in 2011. Rhiannon likes the beach, red wine, and aged Gouda.

Emily GillinghamEmily Gillingham is a 3L at Michigan State University College of Law, and the president of her school’s chapter of LSRJ. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Women’s & Gender Studies from Eastern Michigan University. She has been lucky enough during law school to work as a research assistant for Professor Hannah Brenner, whose work focuses on issues of gender and the law; advocate for women while interning at the PPO project of the Women’s Law Center of Maryland; and volunteer at End Violent Encounters, Inc., a women’s shelter in her area. Her areas of interest are employment law, family law, reproductive rights, and sex workers’ rights. She can be reached at

Elise ForemanElise Foreman is originally from Denver, Colorado but moved to the South to pursue a career in international advocacy and human rights law. Elise is interested in how the law may be used to further social justice and create a more equitable society for everyone. If she is not studying or whipping herself into a passionate frenzy over the latest piece of news, she can be found drinking wine or playing rugby.


jamille fieldsJamille Fields is a fellow in the Reproductive Justice Fellowship Program, which aims to enhance the capacity of organizations working to influence law and policy as it relates to reproductive justice and to build a pipeline for future reproductive justice lawyers by placing stellar young attorneys with Washington, D.C. nonprofit organizations. While in law school, Jamille was a summer associate in NHeLP’s North Carolina office, where she worked on issues related to Medicaid and helped conduct a 50-state health policy survey. Jamille also worked as a summer associate in the office of the Missouri Attorney General, interned in the Washington, D.C. office of Families USA, and served as a judicial extern to Judge Paula Bryant on the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court. Before law school, Jamille’s work focused on public policy and communications. She worked as a communications coordinator on Robin Carnahan’s Missouri Secretary of State Campaign, and interned in the offices of the Missouri Secretary of State, the Congressional Black Caucus, and then-Senator Barack Obama. Jamille received her J.D. and Master of Public Health degrees from St. Louis University’s Schools of Law and of Public Health in 2013. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia. She is the recipient of a number of scholarships, and was one of the top three national finalists in the White House Policy Challenge. Now that Jamille is done with school, she is looking to return to old hobbies of reading non-educational books, learning to cook foods from around the world, and adding new hobbies.


Back to School

Sasha Young, LSRJ Summer Intern (’16, Northwestern University School of Law)

On my first day of law school orientation I walked in nervous but confident. I was feeling myself a little, having signed my lease the week before, built a million IKEA pieces by myself, and expecting a big deposit of loan money to come in on the first day of the semester. I had everything planned out to the dollar, and I felt accomplished… until I saw all of the social events that were woven into orientation week. A slow panic started to set out over me, and I thought, “Isn’t everyone dead broke after moving? After all, loan disbursement happens next week for everyone, not just me.”

At the end of the first or second day, I went to my Critical Legal Reasoning orientation class, expecting that orientation meant doing introductions and ice-breakers. The professor broke us into groups to discuss the assignment she had sent out the day before. I figured no one had bought their books yet because, well, no one else had any money either. So imagine my surprise when nearly everyone in the class pulled out a sparkly, new $200 textbook.

After class, I told the professor that I’d have to wait until the semester started to get my books, and she told me that if I couldn’t get the money to buy the books, I should borrow it from the library where they also have computers I can use for free. This lady thinks I don’t have a computer? I didn’t come to class the next day. I remember telling my mom on the phone, “It’s like they think I’m the poor black kid who got bussed in.”

“You are,” she told me, “and you might as well get used to it.”

That was my first taste of what law school was going to be like. It is hard for everyone, but I was totally unprepared for the racially, socioeconomically, and culturally tense “learning” environment I was walking into this time last year. As the beginning of the next school year approaches, I am dreading more and more having to go back, but at least this time I’m better prepared:

I’m moving out of Whitelandia, a name I coined not only for the lack of pigment in the area, but for the beer pong and ugly sweater Christmas parties.

I blocked out “study time” in my calendar for salsa dancing. Because there’s no study supplement like Celia.

And I joined the executive boards of the Black Law Student Association and the Latino Law Student Association. It’s up to us to increase representation.

Next year, I will not justify my place that school to a single person. I will continue to fight the urge to respond with my LSAT score when someone comments that I’m “so lucky to be diverse in law school,” or that my call-back at that firm was “for a diversity position, huh?” during On-Campus Interviews next week.

Reproductive justice is about empowerment—empowering women to make the best decisions about our lives against racism and sexism and every other –ism that gets thrown at us every day. Thank god I spent the last 8 weeks listening to that over and over. I’m going to need all the armor I can get to brace the next school year.


The look I will have walking into class on September 2nd

2L—here goes nothing.

WHPA Revives Debate over Abortion Restrictions at Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

Rhiannon DiClemente, Guest Blogger (’16, Temple University Beasley School of Law)

Early Thursday morning on July 15, 2014, the Senate halls were bustling with interns, staff members, and local advocates eager to witness the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on S. 1696, also known as the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013 (WHPA). Attendees, who managed to overflow the room, patiently awaited testimony provided by members of Congress, doctors, and activists, both for and against the bill. In light of the decisions in Hobby Lobby and McCullen, it was reassuring to see politicians taking a long over-due stand to protect a woman’s constitutional right to determine whether and when to bear a child or end a pregnancy.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), addresses medically unnecessary state restrictions claimed to “protect” women’s health. It requires that state legislators prove state laws restricting abortion are in fact medically necessary, rather than politically or ideologically motivated. It also requires that states regulate abortion providers in exactly the same way they do other clinics and doctors who provide comparable services. The bill has its shortcomings, such as failing to address clinic violence, insurance prohibitions, and parental consent laws, as a March 2014 blog post highlights. However, it is an important step forward in combatting laws that have a disparate impact on low-income women, immigrant women, LGBT persons, and women of color.

Why is this bill important? As a LSRJ chapter leader at Temple University School of Law and a summer legal intern at the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), I know that despite the fact that we have Roe , the web of state restrictions has decimated abortion access. In states like Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi, the situation is dire. In 2012, the Mississippi legislature passed HB 1390, mandating that any physician performing abortions in the state have admitting privileges at an area hospital (an unnecessary practice). During the Senate committee hearing, Dr. Willie Parker, a board-certified OB/GYN and the last physician providing abortion care in Mississippi, testified that despite 13 attempts to gain admitting privileges at regional hospitals, not one of his requests has been granted. This is just one example of how seemingly ‘safety-oriented’ legislation is really aimed to shut down clinics and restrict abortion access.

At the hearing, Rep. Janet Chu (D-CA27) testified that between 2011 and 2013, states passed over 200 restrictions blocking access to abortion services. This translates to more restrictions on women’s health care in three years than in the entire preceding decade. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) highlighted that these restrictions have forced women to travel greater distances and endure longer wait times to obtain an abortion. “The effect of these laws is that a woman’s constitutional right now depends on her zip code,” stated Rep. Chu, “We need laws that put women’s health and safety first – not politics.”

By speaking out against arbitrary restrictions that do not reflect medical best practice standards, supporters of S. 1696 have declared their respect for the constitutional right to access abortion services and trust in a woman’s ability to make the best choices for her own health and life.

Full testimony can be found here.

The Women’s Health Protection Act: A Missed Opportunity

S J Chapman, Resident Blogger, (’12, Northwestern University Law School)

Last year, Sen. Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced a bill titled the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013 (WHPA).  The bill’s intended purpose is “to protect a women’s right to determine whether and when to bear a child or to end a pregnancy by limiting restrictions on the provision of abortion.” The bill begins with legislative findings that acknowledge how access to safe, legal abortion services in the US has recently been hindered by obstructions such as blockades and violence in front of facilities, restrictions on insurance coverage, restrictions on minors’ ability to obtain an abortion, and injurious laws singling out abortion providers.  These are serious obstacles to reproductive justice that must be addressed.

Thus, it is apt that the bill states, “federal legislation putting a stop to harmful restrictions throughout the United States is necessary to ensure that women in all States have access to safe abortion services, an essential constitutional right repeatedly affirmed by the United States Supreme Court.” In my opinion, the bill is ultimately too weak to effectively carry this goal out.  It explicitly declares that the WHPA “does not apply to clinic violence, restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion, or requirements for parental consent or notification before any minor may obtain an abortion.”

So what does the bill do?

Basically, it prohibits regulating the manner in which abortion providers carry out their services, such as regulating which specific tests be performed, whether doctors may delegate certain tasks, whether a doctor may prescribe certain drugs, or whether a doctor may provide an abortion via telemedicine. The bill also feebly encourages Congress to “address” the larger issues like clinic violence, insurance restrictions, or parental notice laws in separate legislation.

All of this makes for a good start, but it’s a shame that Sen. Blumenthal ultimately passes the buck on some of the largest issues that hinder reproductive freedom today rather than championing them in this bill.

Dear Oscars – “strong female lead” must encompass more than “strong female white lead”

Amanda Shapiro, Resident Blogger (’15, Brooklyn Law School)

Disclaimer: I have seen only one of any of the Oscar nominated films this year. I had the misfortune of seeing “August: Osage County,” and as my friend aptly stated in her refusal to see it: “I will not see any more movies where white people sit around a dinner table and yell at each other.”

As another blogger here pointed out, the Academy has a gender problem. Yet, as a white woman, I have the privilege of seeing people like me at least somewhat represented in feature films. The story is not the same for people of color. I didn’t see “12 Years a Slave,” and I’m glad that some of the Academy’s whitewashing has receded. But the Academy fails to recognize films about black people, created by black people. I really can’t forgive the lack of acknowledgement that “Fruitvale Station” received at the Oscars. “Fruitvale” is a film directed by Ryan Coogler, a black filmmaker, and starring a black character, a young black man. The Academy seems to have problems appreciating films about people of color who do not fit into tropes with which white people are comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, “12 Years a Slave” had a story that needed telling: slavery from the point of view of a slave, not a white savior. But the Academy already consistently recognizes films about slavery – possibly because it’s comforting to place slavery as a past racial problem. Similarly, “The Help” received a plethora of accolades at last year’s Oscars; it was easy to watch that film and congratulate ourselves on the seeming “end” of racism. “Fruitvale Station,” on the other hand, doled out no congratulations to the audience. The power in the movie lay in its refusal to be just a movie about young black men, and more about this young black man. I can’t say it any better than A.O. Scott: “The radicalism of ‘Fruitvale Station’ lies… in its refusal to turn a man into a symbol. Nearly every black man… tends to be flattened out by popular culture… rendered as an innocent victim, a noble warrior or a menace to society.”

The Academy’s discomfort with dynamic roles for people of color extends to a larger problem in Hollywood. The film industry routinely dismisses casting young women of color in leading roles as well. It’s undeniable that young white girls have benefitted from seeing more and more female leads, especially in adaptations of their favorite novels. “The Hunger Games” trilogy shows that young, badass women sell tickets too. But the previews for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” promoted two movies, both with young, white female leads (“Divergent” and “Vampire Academy” – granted, “Vampire Academy” looks pretty stupid, and idealizes girls in scantily clad clothing). At least one of these films could have had a person of color as its lead – especially because books are usually silent as to their lead’s skin color, so that readers can self-identify with the protagonist. I’ve been fortunate enough to see myself reflected in films, with a fair share of Katnisses and Meryls. Now it’s time to realize that “strong female lead” must encompass more than “strong female white lead” in order to capture the range of humanity and diversity in American society.

Stock Up: Ridding Preposterous Images of Women from Stock Photography

Amanda Shapiro, Resident Blogger (’15, Brooklyn Law School)

It was a pleasant surprise to wake up the other morning and see a positive move towards gender parity. announced that it would be partnering with Getty Images to improve the representation of women in stock photography. That’s right, heels will soon be back in style for walking instead of stepping on men, or hanging off of disembodied legs. I’m not too crazy about Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In thesis: that women must learn to adopt characteristics like “assertiveness”  to succeed in this maniverse, rather than dismantling it. But Sandberg aptly described the need for this project as, “you can’t be what you can’t see.”

And what we’re seeing these days is pretty abismal. Advertising is gravitating towards more objectification of female bodies than ever before. It’s not difficult to imagine the toll this imagery takes on young women and girls: depression, eating disorders, and lower self-esteem, to name a few ramifications. But we hear less about the implications these images have for young men. One peer-reviewed study found that men were more tolerant of rape myths and sexual harassment after they viewed images of sexually objectified women. The effects became more pronounced as the exposure to objectifying imagery increased. And if the stock images out there aren’t offensive, they’re just downright ridiculous. This project won’t rid the world of women posing as beer bottles, but it will more accurately depict the “working woman;” she’s leaving those man-stomping heels at home this time.

As a LSRJ alum, I care about women winning

Kate Baxter-Kauf, Guest Blogger, (’11, University of Minnesota Law School)

Like most alumni members of the LSRJ, I was active during law school in my chapter, serving as the co-treasurer for two law school years and going to meetings all three, and helping to organize fund raisers, educational events, and visiting speakers (though perhaps not as active as two of our co-presidents during my law school, both of whom LSRJ has profiled!). Also like most alumni members of the LSRJ, I’m committed to fostering legal expertise and support for the realization of reproductive justice. During law school, my involvement with LSRJ made the method through which I supported these goals clear —my LSRJ chapter had a full and vibrant schedule of ways to learn and get involved.

But since graduating from law school, I’ve been less sure how to support reproductive justice in more tangible ways than being informed and following smart activists on Twitter. I work in private practice; my job doesn’t involve non-profit or advocacy work on a day to day basis. There does not seem to be much of a need for pro bono direct legal services for those seeking abortions in my area—I looked, for example, as to whether minors requiring a judicial bypass proceeding needed counsel in Minnesota, where I live, but my research and discussion with providers indicated that guardians at litem and not lawyers were the ordinary volunteers. Every pro-choice organization needs donations and holds events, and I’ve found a few I especially like, especially those that directly fund abortions for people who can’t afford them.

Over the past year I have found a different opportunity to participate in the movement through an organization called womenwinning. The organization recruits, trains, and helps pro-choice women candidates get elected and the events it puts on directly support this mission—I went to a house party that discussed essential traits of successful global leaders in the context of women in the workplace with Dr. Annmarie Neal that was fantastic, and last year’s annual luncheon with former Senator Olympia Snowe was both inspiring and informative about the ongoing need for pro-choice women officials across the ideological spectrum. Next week, I’ll be attending my second annual Wine, Chocolate & Choice event, which is specifically designed to aid young pro-choice women like myself in fostering the next generation of reproductive rights advocates.

If you’re in Minneapolis next week and a supporter of LSRJ, you should join me. If you’re not, I highly encourage you—in addition to supporting LSRJ, supporting and funding direct reproductive rights services, and other events—to seek out these types of organizations. Finding a way to elect pro-choice women candidates to all levels of public office is a concrete step in the fight for reproductive rights and justice.

Note from the LSRJ national office – as a 501(c)(3) organization, we do not support or oppose any candidate running for public office. Any LSRJ alum or member affiliating with WomenWinning is doing so as a private individual.

The Rape Apologist

Amanda Shapiro, Resident Blogger (’15, Brooklyn Law School)

As a TA for a criminal law class this past semester, I witnessed some pretty scary comments about sexual assault from law students.  Those comments were the inspiration behind this post.

A “rape apologist” is someone who sympathizes with the rapist (The onion has summarized this affliction oh-so-well.)  Here’s how to identify and treat the symptoms of such a person:

  1. The raised eyebrow at the mention of rape. Treatment: pretend you were talking about rate…s of inflation in this country. Get out while you still can!
  2. Outlining his perfect rape apology scenario: “So things are getting hot and heavy between a girl and a guy. She decides she’s not into it, but she just lies there, and doesn’t say anything. And the guy still thinks it’s great, so he keeps going. How can you blame him when she doesn’t say anything?” Treatment: “Does that sound like good sex to any reasonable human being? You make sure your partner is properly lying like a frozen, dead fish, you don’t speak, and you just continue? LADIES: GET IN LINE, THIS GUY JUST CONTINUES.”
  3. The proper allocation of blame: “The ‘victim’ [read: air quotes] needs to ask what she was doing to cause her rape.” Treatment: “Sir, I believe you are speaking to personal responsibility. You know what’s a good barometer for personal responsibility? Simply asking your partner, ‘is this ok?’
  4. “Science” that conveniently apologizes for rape: “Besides, science says that men are biologically predisposed to commit rape. So, come on: science…” Treatment: “I believe you are referring to Thornhill and Palmer’s A Natural History of Rape, which can be summarized as: ‘male scorpionflies seem to rape, therefore male humans obviously need to rape.’ You should read Besteman and Gusterson’s book, Why America’s Top Pundits Are Wrong. They are leading anthropologists who de-bunk biological determinism. But I understand if you’re too busy reading… Reddit…?”

If you or someone you know suffers from rape apology, there is still hope. Call that person out on it today!

A corporation is not a person

S J Chapman, Resident Blogger, (’12, Northwestern University Law School)

In a victory for reproductive justice, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates coverage of 20 preventive contraceptives in private health care plans without additional cost-sharing like co-pays.[1]  Now, private interests are seeking to gut this provision in the Supreme Court by claiming corporations should not have to adhere to the mandate if their owners subscribe to a religious belief that some of these preventive contraceptives are in fact abortificients.

In November, the Supreme Court granted cert in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.[2]  In this case, Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Green family, claim that mandating the corporation cover certain contraceptives violates Hobby Lobby’s freedom of religious exercise under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

As the Tenth Circuit explained in its majority opinion, “a plaintiff makes a prima facie case under RFRA by showing that the government substantially burdens a sincere religious exercise.  The burden then shifts to the government to show that the compelling interest test is satisfied through application of the challenged law to the person — the particular claimant whose sincere exercise of religion is being substantially burdened.”[3]

The problem here is that a corporation is not a person.  It can not be spiritual.  It has no mind; it can not form a belief system, let alone adhere to one for purposes of the RFRA.

Hobby Lobby can not pray.  It can not sit next to my peers in church, and stand with the rest of the congregation to sing hymns.  It can not meditate.  It can not believe in God.  The Greens, on the other hand, are capable of – and free to do – all of the above.

Allowing for-profit corporations to exempt themselves from the mandate under the RFRA is wrong.  These employees should be allowed to freely exercise religion in line with their own values and belief systems; their employer shouldn’t exercise it for them.




Why is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act Important? Can’t LGBT People Just Hide Their Identities?

Lauren Paulk, LSRJ RJ Fellow (’13, City University of New York School of Law)

My colleague received the title question after a webinar on the intersection of LGBT Rights and Reproductive Justice. I both live and work at this intersection, and so I was particularly struck by this webinar attendee’s question – why is LGBT employment discrimination significant when it is “easy” to hide this identity?  I’ll be honest, my first reaction was a bit of frustration  because it seemed like yet another person trying to push us all back into the closet. But I have to believe this was a genuine question and perhaps one other people were wondering about, including my own friends and family.

Being out at work – and working at a place where that is not just accepted, but celebrated – means everything to me. Hiding who you are at work can be a difficult and painful thing to do, and being “found out” in a state without an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) can cost you your job or subject you to unwanted harassment, no matter what steps you have taken to remain closeted at work. Additionally, although some LGBT people are able to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity from their coworkers, some either do not “pass”[1] as straight or cisgender, or may be purposefully or accidentally “outed” by a coworker or friend. Even if your workplace doesn’t fire you, keeping your sexual orientation or gender identity a secret has serious implications for LGBT employees. Hiding sexual orientation can result in workers not getting access to workplace benefits for same-sex partners and families. Likewise, hiding gender identity can hinder access to appropriate healthcare benefits for transgender workers.

Discrimination in the workplace also leads to wage gaps and overall greater economic insecurity for LGBT families, especially for LGBT families living in Southern states, where protection against employment discrimination is less common. This economic insecurity can be compounded for LGBT parents who live at the intersection of other marginalized identities. If reproductive justice includes the right to parent our children free from discrimination, we must consider how job insecurity and instability cause reproductive INjustice for LGBT people.

There are also day-to-day consequences of hiding who you are. For example, it is not at all unusual to discuss dating life and romantic relationships at the proverbial water cooler in an office environment. Additionally, at office events people are encouraged to bring a date, and many people want or choose to bring their significant others. This may lead LGBT people to avoid socializing at work altogether in order to avoid uncomfortable personal questions or conversations. These two things are only small examples of how an LGBT person may have to suppress their own identity and personal life at the expense of not being able to be honest or speak openly with their colleagues, and at the expense of not being able to share their work environment and colleagues – arguably very significant parts of a person’s life, given that many people spend eight hours a day at the office – with a partner or significant other.

On the other hand, an article by the Center of American Progress discusses the increased productivity, workplace satisfaction, and job commitment from LGBT people who are out at work. This is corroborated by the recent account of a PepsiCo. employee discussing her personal story of what it meant to her to be able to come out at work.

Economic justice is inextricable from reproductive justice, as these cases help illustrate. The thing to focus on as we consider and debate ENDA with lawmakers, family, and friends, is whether or not people should be fired just for being who they are.


[1] “Passing” is a term that means someone is able to mask an identity they hold in order to blend in with people who hold a different identity.