Reproductive Rights Law Project
Since January 2005, the Reproductive Rights Law Project (RRLP) collaborates with the Women’s Law Project, the Public Defender’s Office, Planned Parenthood, and the Philadelphia Women’s Center to ensure access to safe, comprehensive, and affordable reproductive healthcare and to advocate for reproductive rights. RRLP currently provides direct legal service to clients in the form of judicial bypass counseling and clinical escorting and performs legal and policy research.
This past year, RRLP has done some very exciting research for the Women’s Law Project. Our members have produced substantive confidential legal memos for use by WLP lawyers regarding new state legislation and advocacy efforts. RRLP volunteers have been able to sharpen their research and writing skills on cutting edge legal topics in the areas of privacy, constitutional, medical malpractice, administrative, and health law.
RRLP continues its effort to assist local health clinics by training volunteers to escort clients to and from the clinics to shield them from protestors. Beyond providing this assistance to clients, our volunteers also report Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act violations to the clinic liaison or police officer on staff.
Additionally, RRLP coordinates with the Philadelphia Public Defender’s Office to assist minors accessing Pennsylvania’s judicial bypass system. In an effort to limit access to abortion, Pennsylvania requires women less than eighteen years of age to obtain parental consent for abortions. In certain circumstances, minors may bypass this process by going before a judge and providing reasons why she should be able to make this decision without parental consent. RRLP members volunteer at local clinics to explain the judicial bypass process and to complete legal paperwork so that the Public Defender may provide better representation to these young women. Judicial bypass interviews are one-on-one and provide students with hands-on client experience and practice dealing with sensitive legal issues. The judicial bypass program is a unique and exciting pro bono opportunity for Penn Law students.
Finally, RRLP is also working on producing a pamphlet for teens that describes their reproductive rights. We are currently in the research and content-editing phase of this long-term project.