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Penn Law Students for Reproductive Justice

Penn Law Students for Reproductive Justice trains and mobilizes law students to foster legal expertise and support for the realization of reproductive justice. Since January 2005, Penn LSRJ has collaborated 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. Penn LSRJ 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, Penn LSRJ 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. Penn LSRJ 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.

Penn LSRJ 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, Penn LSRJ 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. Penn LSRJ 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.

As a chapter of the national organization Law Students for Reproductive Justice, Penn LSRJ provides its members with access to other organizations and community partners throughout the country that pursue reproductive justice. Penn LSRJ hosts a variety of events designed to foster an ongoing, meaningful dialogue about reproductive rights and the legal debates surrounding those issues at Penn. Our past events have included panels on current issues such as the Hobby Lobby case, speakers discussing career opportunities in reproductive rights, HIV awareness and testing events, and Sex Ed Quizzo nights at a local bar.