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If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice

Penn If/When/How engages in pro bono projects, community building, activism, advocacy and education aimed at ensuring access to reproductive healthcare for all individuals. Our work is greatly informed and influenced by the work of advocates of color in the reproductive justice movement, who advocate for “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: 

Penn If/When/How provides direct legal service to clients in the form of judicial bypass counseling and clinic escorting. 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.

How we do it:

We collaborate with Women’s Law Project, the Defender’s Association, Planned Parenthood, and the Philadelphia Women’s Center on pro bono projects to ensure access to safe, comprehensive, and affordable reproductive healthcare. We work with young people in Philadelphia seeking access to abortion and support the work of attorneys fighting to advance and protect reproductive rights in Pennsylvania.

Penn Law If/When/How offers direct client experience through our judicial bypass project. In Pennsylvania, individuals younger than eighteen must get parental consent to obtain an abortion. If they do not have a parent able or willing to consent, they must petition a judge to issue a court order allowing them to get an abortion. Our volunteers help these young people at clinics fill out the necessary judicial bypass paperwork and schedule a meeting with their attorney for the hearing. Through Penn Law If/When/How, law students can volunteer as clinic escorts at a local abortion clinic in Philadelphia. Penn Law If/When/How also offers legal research assignments to support Women’s Law Project’s research and advocacy efforts.

How and when can I join:

Students interested in volunteering with judicial bypass or clinic escorting should attend a mandatory training before signing up for shifts. Trainings will be held in the Fall semester and potentially in the Spring semester, depending on capacity and interest. Following the training, a spreadsheet is emailed out with available shifts (which are one to two hours long), and volunteers can select shifts depending on their schedule (no minimum). Research assignments are emailed to 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. If you have questions, please email If/When/How Co-Director, Rachel Zacharias.

What skills will I develop:

Client counseling, interviewing & intake, working with vulnerable clients, legal analysis, legal research, legal writing, and policy advocacy.

The work is likely to be New York Bar eligible (judicial bypass & research).