Legal Advocacy

Legal Advocacy

One way to simplify and sum up Pregnancy Justice's legal advocacy work is to say: If you are locked up because you are knocked up, call Pregnancy Justice! We are the leading organization providing pro-bono (free) criminal defense for pregnant people charged with crimes in relation to their pregnancies — for having an abortion, experiencing a pregnancy loss, or because a law enforcement official believes a pregnant person was somehow endangering their pregnancy, whether by falling down a flight of stairs or by using alcohol or a criminalized drug.

Pregnancy Justice's legal advocacy, however, takes numerous forms. For some cases, Pregnancy Justice becomes direct counsel or co-counsel. We directly represent clients who are charged with crimes, threatened with state action such as court-ordered surgery, or are challenging the constitutionality of a law like Wisconsin's Act 292, which allows the state to deprive pregnant people of their right to medical decision making, bodily integrity, physical liberty, and to parent.

Assisting Legal Counsel

In addition to directly representing clients, Pregnancy Justice assists other lawyers and organizations by providing advice and model briefs, by conducting legal research, drafting court papers, and arranging for pro bono experts.

In all of our major cases, Pregnancy Justice develops a comprehensive strategy addressing the underlying issues or agenda represented by the prosecution. This strategy typically includes enlisting support from other organizations and individuals as experts and amici and working with local and state-based activists who organize against the prosecution or other action taken against the pregnant person.

Organizing Amici

Pregnancy Justice also works with and often represents scores of leading medical, public health and advocacy organizations and experts as amici (friends of the court) who educate courts, policy makers, and the public about pregnant people, drugs, and the real threats to their health and the health of their children and families.

Pregnancy Justice's cases are not limited to one state or region of the United States. Our legal work as counsel, counsel for amici, or as key advisors includes everything from local trial courts to the United State Supreme Court. Wherever possible, Pregnancy Justice includes international human rights arguments in our U.S. cases, and we bring our legal expertise to select international human rights cases and advocacy efforts.

Along with direct case involvement, Pregnancy Justice staff give advice on briefs, counseling, materials, and referrals to people who call or submit written inquiries each day via our 24-hour telephone and online intake system.

Providing Policy Analysis

Pregnancy Justice also engages in policy and legislative advocacy work.

Pregnancy Justice provides allies and activists with analysis of proposed legislation and policies; supports initiatives that affirm the civil and human rights of pregnant people and opposes efforts that threaten or undermine those rights; and advises advocates, activists, and policymakers at the local, state, federal, and international levels.

Pregnancy Justice uses all of the tools available to us, including filing formal complaints, commenting on proposed regulations and legislation, exposing the real impact of proposed fetal personhood measure, and filing highly effective submissions to United Nation's Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs to bring attention to how policies permitting arrests of pregnant people violate international human rights.

Pregnancy Justice recognizes that each arrest of or misuse of state power against pregnant people reflects a larger political effort to undermine bodily autonomy and to distract attention from the government's failure to support pregnant people, families, and communities. Pregnancy Justice organizes and mobilizes accordingly.

Pregnancy Justice'S WORK: LEGAL ADVOCACY