Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: A Message from the National Coalition Leadership
As the National Board of The Coalition of the Women’s Initiatives in Law, our core mission is to support and uplift women in the legal field. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization profoundly impacts women, including women in our profession – and so we cannot stay silent about it. Wherever one’s views may lie politically or on abortion, we believe that women throughout this country, regardless of which state they happen to live in or travel to, should be treated as equal, and not less than equal, citizens in all aspects of life, including the personal and professional. That requires women to have basic access to reproductive healthcare, and the basic, human right to make related decisions, which are deeply individual and often incredibly difficult.
The after-effects of Dobbs will be far-reaching and, in some respects, truly harrowing – and we are already starting to see them. As history has shown time and again whenever rights have been limited or taken away, the decision’s aftermath will be hardest felt by those who are the most vulnerable from under-resourced communities, many of them girls and women of color, and transgender individuals and at-risk LGBTQ+ youth, who will not have the financial means to travel or the support and the medical help they need in most desperate and scariest of times. As in the mid-20th century before Roe v. Wade (and before then), this will mean an increase in self-abortions – and, as a result, the increase of injuries and of deaths. In addition to abortion bans, in some states Dobbs will allow for laws that limit or put an end to even the necessary medical support for women undergoing fertility treatments and women who miscarry or have ectopic pregnancies, which are increasingly common among women attorneys. And, as we have already seen, some physicians in these states already are reluctant to provide care due to a lack of clarity about the new legal landscape and threats of prosecution, resulting in a denial of much-needed care to their patients. Our hearts hurt when we think about these realities.
From the standpoint of legal precedent, we are also deeply aware and troubled by the fact that never before in the history of the Supreme Court has the Court interpreted the U.S. Constitution to entirely take away an individual right the Court previously and repeatedly, through its own precedent, recognized to exist and conferred that right on the states. Like many of our colleagues and Constitutional experts, we are concerned about what this will mean for other rights, including the extraordinarily hard-won rights of our Black, LGBTQ+ and immigrant colleagues, friends and members of our communities. Our women lawyers and our family members are part of these communities – our communities – and these are basic human rights. We recognize and are deeply concerned that, with the precedent set by Dobbs, these rights are not safe.
As lawyers and advocates, we believe that it is not only important for us to clearly state our position on Dobbs, but also to act. We are privileged to have the financial and legal resources – and the strength of our collective power – to come together and to help those in need. That includes, at the outset, educating ourselves on applicable laws and related nuances, and lending our pro bono hours to help those in need of legal representation in the aftermath of Dobbs. We call on all attorneys in our communities and networks to step up, and to do the same. We will be sharing our own upcoming programming and resources, and we would appreciate hearing from you and your organizations how we can pool our collective initiatives and strengths to impact positive change.
The National Board of the Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law, Unanimously
Board Members: Sonya Rosenberg, Mehtap Cevher Conti, Anne E. Larson, Elizabeth Schrero, Maria A. Maras, Malaika D. Tyson, Marcia Owens, Christina Bost Seaton, Blythe Lovinger, Amanda Varma, Julianne M. Hartzell, Nicole Nehama Auerbach, Jean M. Cooper-Rose, Carolyn A. Blessing, Alexandra Krisch, Kim Metrick, Margo Wolf O'Donnell and Marjorie Just.
Congratulations Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson 116th Supreme Court Justice
On behalf of the National Chapter of the Coalition, along with the Chicago, D.C., and New York chapters, we congratulate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and celebrate her confirmation as the 116th Supreme Court justice. Her historic nomination will make her the first Black woman and former public defender to ever serve on the court. This is an outstanding achievement as part of an overall illustrious legal career. This summer, Judge Jackson will join Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Amy Coney Barrett at the court, which will be the first time that four women have served as justices simultaneously.
As an organization focused on the advancement and professional development of women attorneys, we are excited to see that this day has come. We also recognize that there is continued work to be done to ensure that the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, reflects the gender composition of the legal community overall.
When asked “When will there be enough,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg answered: “When there are nine.” If that shocked her audience, Ginsburg responded: “But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” We raise a celebratory fist pump in support of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s answer and Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation.
Maria A. Maras
President, Chicago Chapter
Blythe E. Lovinger
President, New York Chapter
Co-President, DC Chapter
Amanda Pedvin Varma
Co-President, DC Chapter
Mehtap Cevher Conti
National Board Co-Chair
Anne E. Larson
National Board Co-Chair