If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice
Penn If/When/How strives to realize reproductive justice by engaging in pro bono projects, community building, activism, advocacy, and education “so all people have the power to determine if, when, and how to define, create, and sustain families with dignity and to actualize sexual and reproductive wellbeing on their own terms.” We are inspired by the work of Indigenous women, women of color, and transgender people who have long fought for reproductive justice, which is defined by SisterSong as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
What we do:
As a chapter of the national If/When/How organization, we provide legal research and advocacy support to organizations and community partners throughout the country, who are fighting to advance reproductive health, rights, and justice. We also provide direct legal service to clients in the form of clinic escorting in Philadelphia. We strive to protect people’s reproductive right to access safe abortions and other necessary medical care.
In addition to our pro bono arm, we also host events aimed at educating the student body on what reproductive justice is and how to become better allies in the movement. We have recently hosted events about criminalizing reproductive decision-making, decriminalizing sex work, disability justice, the post-Dobbs legal landscape, and Professor Dorothy Roberts’s new book, Torn Apart.
How we do it:
We collaborate with the Defender’s Association of Philadelphia, Planned Parenthood, the Philadelphia Women’s Center, and the Women’s Law Project, on pro bono projects. We research and write public comments on proposed federal and state regulations that touch on a wide range of reproductive justice topics, such as education, food insecurity, healthcare, and gender identity. We work with people in Philadelphia seeking access to abortions and support the work of attorneys fighting to advance and protect reproductive freedom in Pennsylvania and beyond.
How and when can I join:
Students interested in clinic escorting must attend mandatory training before signing up for shifts. Training is held in the Fall and Spring semesters. Following the training, volunteers can sign up for shifts sent out by our community partner.
Research assignments are emailed to the If/When/How’s listserv as they become available and are assigned on a first come, first serve basis. Many research assignments focus heavily on constitutional law, and are therefore limited to 2/3Ls. A mandatory research training is held in the Fall.
Public comment assignments are also emailed to the If/When/How’s listserv as they become available and are assigned on a first come, first serve basis. No prior experience or knowledge is necessary for comment writing.
What skills will I develop:
Working with vulnerable clients, legal analysis, legal research, legal writing, and policy advocacy.
The research work is likely to be New York Bar eligible.