Pregnancy Justice and our allies' recent victories show how important it is to resist attacks on pregnant women's personhood -- and how equally important it is to organize with our allies to reframe the debate.
Defeating Colorado Feticide Law
With Pregnancy Justice's support, the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), NARAL Colorado, Planned Parenthood of Colorado, and partners did what most thought would be impossible: We stopped Colorado from becoming the 39th state to adopt a feticide law. We've seen the "feticide playbook" before: typically after violence against a pregnant woman, the state passes a law that declares separate rights for fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses. Next, it argues that it is hypocritical to treat fetuses as persons in some cases but not when the pregnant woman herself ends a pregnancy or can't guarantee a healthy newborn. The outcome? A law supposedly passed to "protect" pregnant women becomes a tool for prosecuting and arresting pregnant women themselves.
But Pregnancy Justice used its own playbook to help Colorado advocates to defeat this proposed feticide law. We do the careful research needed to show how feticide laws have been used to arrest and detain pregnant women. We establish and maintain meaningful relationships with reproductive justice and other local organizations. And when those partners seek our help, we respond immediately with legal support, analysis, participation in media briefings, and commentary framing the issues. And we always encourage and applaud colleagues who amplify these frames. Together we succeeded in revealing Colorado's feticide law for what it really was: yet another effort by anti-choice activists to reduce and restrict pregnant women's constitutional and human rights.
Tennessee Activists Stop Bill Targeting More Pregnant Women
In Tennessee, Pregnancy Justice is working with local advocates to repeal the law, enacted last year, permitting arrests and prosecutions of pregnant women - with special provisions for the arrest of pregnant women who may have used "narcotic" drugs. This year, the Tennessee Legislature considered a bill that would expand the law to allow arrests of even more pregnant women. Although the bill was expected to pass easily, local activists organized by Healthy & Free Tennessee and SisterReach, went to the media, and put together such strong opposition that they stopped the bill in its tracks.
North Carolina Says No to Similar Law
In North Carolina, physicians came to Pregnancy Justice for analysis and support to help them defeat a bill that, like Tennessee's law, would have created special, gender-based crimes for pregnant women and threatened public health. Pregnancy Justice helped connect physicians with local experts and activists, like the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, and with those advocates opposing similar laws in other states. We provided support and analysis crucial to demonstrating that enacting this law would harm public health at great financial cost to the state.
And Our Fight Continues ...
Pregnancy Justice's playbook also includes advocacy in the courts. In the last few months, we have filed friend of the court briefs in Arkansas, Vermont, and Virginia on behalf of nearly 100 organizations and individual experts, arguing for pregnant women's civil and human rights.
Pregnancy Justice also continues its extensive public education efforts. In March, Pregnancy Justice assisted Alicia Beltran's presentation at the Wisconsin Women's Health Policy Summit. Alicia received a standing ovation when she shared her story of being arrested and detained when she sought medical care during pregnancy. Pregnancy Justice is honored to support Alicia's work as a women's health advocate.
In April, Farah Diaz-Tello, Senior Staff Attorney, spoke at the 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Qatar. She explained that one way you prevent crime is by refusing to define the things that human beings do - such as getting pregnant - as crimes in the first place. Farah also represented Pregnancy Justice in May at the UN's 5th Civil Society Hearing, in preparation for 2016's UN General Assembly Special Session on the global drug war, where she spoke about how the war on drugs has justified deprivations of women's human and civil rights.
Finally, we are proud to report that Executive Director Lynn Paltrow will receive an honorary degree from the City University of New York's School of Law and will give the commencement speech to this year's graduating class. We are also proud to note that this class includes Kara Wallis, Pregnancy Justice's former Research and Program Associate. Congratulations, Kara!
Please help us continue to prove that resistance matters.