As of March 13, 2019, the SIA Legal Team and If/When/How are working together to lawyer for reproductive justice harder than ever before as If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice. We know you’ll have some questions about the merger, so we’re tackling a few of them right here.
Q. What is your mission and vision for this work?
We’re thrilled to share our newly crafted mission and vision statements with the world.
Vision: We envision a transformation of the legal systems and institutions that perpetuate oppression into structures that realize justice, and a future when all people can self-determine their reproductive lives free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.
Mission: If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice transforms the law and policy landscape through advocacy, support, and organizing so all people have the power to determine if, when, and how to define, create, and sustain families with dignity and to actualize sexual and reproductive wellbeing on their own terms.
Q. Does this mean you’re going to do less/only work on self-managed abortion?
Absolutely not! We’ll be continuing and growing our SMA efforts while working on other related issues. Our communities – the communities we’re part of, and the communities we serve – experience multiple and intersecting forms of reproductive oppression. We will continue to work on the full spectrum of reproductive justice issues while identifying five key places we believe our work will have the most impact: decriminalizing self-managed and supported non-clinical abortion; improving young people’s abortion access; securing public insurance coverage of abortion; enhancing birth options and experiences; and increasing support for families using public benefits.
Q. That’s a lot! How are you going to pull this off?
Through five carefully chosen modalities that will allow us to build power with people who want to harness their skills and talents to make reproductive justice a reality. The five modalities are: training, research, organizing, policy advocacy, and litigation. These five modalities are a perfect union of the work that SLT and If/When/How have been doing as separate organizations, and together we will be twice as powerful on all fronts.
Q. So what’s the deal: is this a reproductive justice organization?
We are a nimble, multiracial, leaderful organization of people holding various identities, perspectives, and lived experiences, who share a commitment to practicing social justice values and advancing the vision of reproductive justice developed by the women of color who founded the framework in the mid-1990s. We believe everyone deserves to self-determine their reproductive lives, and we center our efforts on resilient communities impacted by structural oppression. As legal partners to the reproductive justice movement, we recognize that lawyers and law students often possess privilege, wealth, influence, and authority that – when cultivated thoughtfully, brought to bear on oppressive systems, and offered in a posture of service to community – can and will help to achieve reproductive justice. We are excited to continue interrogating, exploring, and developing the concept and practice of RJ Lawyering in partnership with our legal and non-legal movement partners.
Q. What’s it going to be like to work at/with the new organization?
As a manifestation of our values and an essential part of our culture, we practice shared leadership. For us, this means each person on staff is a trusted expert in their area who enjoys deference and autonomy within a supportive structure that provides mentorship and fosters mutual accountability. At our leaderful organization, we cultivate trust, practice collaboration, and hold ourselves to the highest standards of awareness, performance, and service.
Q. What about the Reproductive Justice Fellowship Program?
We are deeply committed to changing the face and practice of lawyering by placing new graduates coming from diverse law schools, communities, and cultural backgrounds at grassroots, state, and national reproductive justice organizations, and that’s not going to change. In fact, we’re expanding: In 2019 Fellows will take positions at four new placements in the South at Women Engaged, Spark RJ Now, Healthy and Free Tennessee, and SisterReach.
Q. Will SIA’s Repro Legal Helpline still be available to people with concerns about being criminalized for SMA?
Yes. The helpline and companion website will continue to provide legal information, support, and attorney referrals to callers who have been questioned by the authorities, or fear they will be, on suspicion of a self-managed abortion.
Q. Will If/When/How still organize on law school campuses?
Yes. We know from lived experience that the law students of today are the movement leaders of tomorrow. That’s why our movement-building department will focus on expanding the existing resources our students bring to their campuses – like our RJ Squared: Racial Justice is Reproductive Justice Toolkit, our Reproductive Rights Law and Justice Course Campaign toolkit, and our Chapter Activism Guide that offers students a month-by-month guide to talking about reproductive justice, hosting events, recruiting members, and building coalitions at their law schools .
Q. Why are you using the If/When/How name?
If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice encompasses the breadth of the work our merged organizations will do while specifying that our overarching goal is to contribute to the advancement of reproductive justice. We will be lawyering for RJ like never before. And, in all we do, we are helping people build power so they can decide if, when, and how to create, define, and sustain families.
Q. Where is the organization headquartered?
Ours is a geographically dispersed team with a concentration of staff who live and work in Oakland, CA. We’re stronger because of the geographic diversity of our staff, many of whom are working in and near communities most affected by reproductive injustice. Our folks are striving and thriving in eight cities coast-to-coast, from California to Texas to New York.
Q. How can we support you?
With your time, your voice, and if possible, your financial resources! If you’re a law student or legal professional who wants to get involved in the reproductive justice movement, sign up for our network to make sure you don’t miss the latest news, action alerts, and opportunities to put your skills to use. If you’re on social media, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and share the good news of the merger with your social networks, and join our private Facebook group for law students and lawyers. To fund our exciting new steps forward in the fight for reproductive freedom, become a donor (we love sustaining and recurring donors!) via our giving page.