Sallie Thomas: 'What Drew Me to Reproductive Justice Work is the Impact That It Can Have on Simplifying the Lives of Those Most in Need by Demanding Change in Society, Politics, and the Law.'

If/When/How’s Quick Question series highlights the work of our Reproductive Justice Fellows, introducing our network to the incredible advocates who are dedicating their lives to the movement to lawyer for reproductive justice. We’re so proud of the work they’re doing at placement organizations across the country to ensure that everyone has the ability to safely decide if, when, and how to create and sustain their families, and to actualize sexual and reproductive wellbeing on their own terms. But we can’t support them without you: Please donate $10 to help us give aspiring and new lawyers the resources they need to thrive. And if you can’t give — share!

Sallie Thomas

Sallie J. Thomas (Howard University School of Law ’21) is a dedicated reproductive justice advocate who focused her academic scholarship, intern, and extern opportunities on addressing issues of the movement. Sallie interned with the District of Columbia Department of Health (DC Health) in their General Counsel office, where she drafted policies creating easier access to abortion and expanding the scope of practice for APRNs. She also interned at the National Partnership for Women and Families where she compiled a Bad Medicine report and assisted the communications team with legal content for social media platforms. Sallie also interned at the National Institute for Reproductive Health where she helped extensively with their End-of-Year report and wrote memorandums for partners on topics including judicial bypass laws. Prior to law school, Sallie graduated from State University of New York – College at Old Westbury with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She then went on to graduate from Stony Brook University with her Masters in Social Work. Sallie worked as a medical social worker for a bit over two years prior to going to law school.

Sallie will spend her RJ Fellowship year at Positive Women’s Network-USA in Oakland, CA.

If/When/How: Who are you and where are you from?

Sallie Thomas: My name is Sallie J. Thomas and I use she/her pronouns. I was born in Queens, NY and raised in Long Island, NY.

If/When/How: Where are you going? (You can treat this question literally or existentially).

ST: I am going someplace bigger and better than where I have been.

If/When/How: Who or what drew you to reproductive justice work?

ST: After working as a medical social worker, it became clear to me that the issues my patients were facing were multifaceted. In particular, I noticed that my patients who identified as women, were Black or otherwise POC, who were living with HIV, or identified as LGBTQ+ often faced even greater difficulties with the healthcare system. What drew me to reproductive justice work is the impact that it can have on simplifying the lives of those most in need by demanding change in society, politics, and the law. Audre Lorde said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” Reproductive justice uses an intersectional approach to address the issues that folks encounter, with specific emphasis on the visibility, solidarity, and inclusion of folks who are marginalized in different ways. It feels great to leave my old career where I had to often tell my patients “no” to now work in reproductive justice in order to find a way to say “yes.”

If/When/How: When you are not lawyering, what do you get up to?

ST: When I am not lawyering, I love to cook! The act of cooking is a form of self-care for me, and the finished product is like a gift to myself. I enjoy cooking for friends and family, and I feel that coming together for a home-cooked meal is a great way to honor your relationships with the people who you love and care about. I also have an amazing dog named Goose, who I like to find dog-friendly things to do with. We enjoy hiking, dog parks, playdates, going to the beach, and finding dog bakeries and ice cream parlors for him to enjoy. I consider myself to be pretty adventurous, so it is nice to have an adventurous pup to accompany me.

If you’re as excited as we are to see Sallie succeed, donate $10 to help If/When/How support new lawyers like her.