[Editor’s note: This is part of our Lawyering Then/Lawyering Now fundraising series, so if you’re afraid you’re going to be asked for money after reading this inspiring profile of one of If/When/How’s most committed donors, you are wrong. The link in this editor’s note already goes to our giving page, which means we’ve really already asked you for money. Now you can just enjoy the story.]
Sarah Felts had a “really, really difficult and isolating” first year of law school. She was politically active, a self-described liberal, and even okay with (hesitantly) calling herself a feminist. But something was missing — until she found the University of Missouri’s If/When/How chapter and her first Reproductive Justice 101 training.
“I was hooked,” remembers Felts. “It was a really big contrast between this incredible eye-opening experience that made so much sense, and you’re starting law school where none of this will be talked about.”
Felts had found her people — “people who cared about RJ and were also always the feminist buzzkill in their classes.” Felts even joined her fellow feminist buzzkills at If/When/How’s leadership institute in Washington, D.C. “When I went back to Mizzou and felt alone, I knew it wasn’t the reality that I was really alone.”
“That shaped how I went through school,” says Felts. “It’s shaped internships, shaped friendships, shaped how I interact online and in person, shaped how I advanced in my career.”
Now, Felts is shaping how If/When/How supports students like the one she once was — those who study the law in hopes of changing the world, but feel like their schools don’t necessarily have the radical tools they need. Today, she’s the Statewide Communications Coordinator for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, and she’s been a monthly donor to If/When/How for over three years.
“In 2015, I finally was like, ‘I have an income. I should start giving back instead of just saying that I appreciate this organization,'” she says. “I should support [If/When/How] in a financial way instead of just talking about it on the internet.”
Felts quips that she’s a licensed attorney, “but I don’t practice, which is my favorite way to be a lawyer.” Today, she keeps an eye on the Missouri legislature for Planned Parenthood, helps patients tell their stories and, when they’re in “electoral mode,” develops messaging for campaigns and voter outreach efforts. The issues she works on in her everyday life track with those intersectional values she developed back in law school: Reducing Missouri’s maternal mortality rate by improving care for black moms and babies, challenging parental notification laws that keep minors from accessing abortion care, and expanding Medicaid access for new mothers.
As a lifelong Missourian, Felts says she’s committed to her “dream job,” keeping the fight going in a state that’s not nearly as red as its gerrymandered districts make it seem.
“I feel proud to be working here. This is where the fight is. I’m really excited to be playing a role in that.”
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