If/When/How is delighted to announce our thirteenth Reproductive Justice Fellowship Program (RJFP) cohort. We’re welcoming seven recent law school graduates to a community of 95 lawyers who have launched their careers with our one-of-a-kind legal fellowship.
During this year-long fellowship, If/When/How Fellows will focus on national policy work in Washington, D.C., and our RJ State and RJ-HIV Fellows help build power at placement organizations that are working at the intersection of myriad issues to promote reproductive justice for all people.
In this moment, it is vital to support future lawyers as they hone their skills and deepen their proactive advocacy efforts. Abortion access hangs in the balance at the Supreme Court. State-level attacks eviscerate what little remains of Roe’s protections, ban trans health care and comprehensive sex education, and the list goes on. Harmful rhetoric spouted by white supremacists stokes fear and balloons the funding for policing and the criminalization of communities. Legal ingenuity paired with a grounding in reproductive justice can be potent tools to push back on this onslaught and build new structures that recognize all people’s reproductive freedom and dignity.
Those who are most impacted by reproductive oppression must be leading the movement to lawyer for reproductive justice. The legal field often excludes and marginalizes the people and communities most harmed by our current systems by design. Among U.S. law students admitted in 2020, nearly 60 percent were white. Women make up a little over half of that class. However, gender parity disappears, and racial disparities increase when we look at who’s actually practicing law: 62 percent of lawyers are men, and 85 percent are white. According to NALP’s reports published in 2017, just 7.5 percent of lawyers employed by firms in the NALP Directory of Legal Employers are women of color, and 2.64 percent are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender folks.
In contrast: About 66 percent of If/When/How’s thirteen Fellow cohorts identify as people of color, and 43 percent identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer folks. The RJFP values lived experiences and actively selects candidates who belong to communities facing the brunt of injustice.
The impact that RJFP Fellows make is clear. From appearing as co-counsel in an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit about forced sterilizations at the Irwin County Detention Center, to advocating and passing a Doula Recognition Resolution which recognizes doulas as vital birth and community health care workers in Tennessee, to organizing and registering voters in Georgia, our Fellows have done incredible work helping build a world in which reproductive freedom is closer to becoming a reality for all of us.
Please join us in congratulating these seven new RJ Fellows and the placement organizations selected to participate in the 2022-23 cohort.
- Ariana Camara (she/her), Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law ’22, RJ Federal Fellow at All* Above All
- Kate Doyle (she/her), Rutgers Law School, Camden ’22, RJ-HIV Fellow at SisterLove, Inc. in Atlanta, GA
- Elias Fox Schmidt (he/him), University at Buffalo School of Law ’22, RJ State Fellow at SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! in Atlanta, GA
- Chelsea Gonzalez (she/her/they/them), University at Buffalo School of Law ’20, Second Year RJ Federal Fellow at Advocates for Youth in Washington, D.C.
- Nina Haug (she/her), New York University School of Law ’22, RJ State Fellow at Women Engaged in Atlanta, GA
- Amanda Le (she/her), University of California, Irvine School of Law ’22, RJ-HIV Fellow at Positive Women’s Network-USA
- Meera Rajput (she/her), University of Pittsburgh Law School ’22, RJ Federal Fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health
If you can, make a donation and tell your friends and family why you think it’s so important to support the reproductive justice movement by demanding a more diverse, more representative legal field.
We could not do this work without the generous funding from our foundation partners, the continued collaboration with the Women and the Law Program at American University Washington College of Law, the unflagging support from our allies and community, and the energy and enthusiasm from our student and legal professional members. Thank you!