October 30, 2020

Women lawyers tell US Supreme Court about their own abortions

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Rally outside the Supreme Court protesting the court's decision to uphold the federal ban on "partial birth" abortions.  April 18, 2007.  Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/LEGAL TIMES.

Rally outside the protesting the court’s decision to uphold the federal ban on “partial birth” abortions. April 18, 2007. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/LEGAL TIMES.

By Tony Mauro, From The National Law Journal

More than 100 women lawyers joined in a brief to tell the U.S. Supreme Court about their own abortions and why their reproductive freedom was pivotal to their personal and professional lives.

The extraordinary brief, filed Monday, was signed by former judges, law professors, law firm partners, public interest lawyers and law clerks, though none who clerked for the high court itself.

“The constitutional right to abortion access has had a profoundly important impact on the legal profession” said Alexia Korberg, an associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and one of the authors of the brief. “We had a huge outpouring of interest from lawyers who wanted to join this brief.”

Janice Mac Avoy of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.  October 13, 2014.  HANDOUT.

of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. October 13, 2014. HANDOUT.

Janice Mac Avoy, a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, was one of the women who told of her abortion in the amicus brief.

“One-third of women have had abortions, including justices’ colleagues, law school classmates, advocates who have appeared before them and people they have worked with,” Mac Avoy said. “We wanted to signal to members of the court that abortion is not just an abstract concept.”

The brief was filed in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a Texas case in which abortion rights advocates are challenging restrictions on abortion clinics that could result in shuttering many facilities. They claim the regulations pose an “undue burden” on women’s rights. Set for argument on March 2, the case is viewed as the most important abortion rights case in nearly a decade.

The 113 women who joined the brief said in the filing they “believe that, like themselves, the next generation of lawyers should have the ability to control their reproductive lives and thus the opportunity to fully participate in the economic and social of the nation.”

Korberg said that from recent cases, including those involving same-sex marriage, “it seems that the Supreme Court really appreciates hearing about the real-world impact of the issues at stake.”

Mac Avoy, who volunteered to be a lead named party on the brief, said the filing responds to “storytelling briefs,” often filed on the other side of abortion cases, that document the stories of women who have regretted their abortions. Mac Avoy, co-chairwoman of the firm’s pro bono committee, said she discussed with her family whether to go public with her own abortion, and they agreed. “I felt like it was important to humanize the issue,” she said.

The brief lists in an appendix the names and positions of the women who joined the filing, but their names are not linked to the actual narratives about their abortions contained in the text.

One woman, described as an appellate litigator who has argued before the Supreme Court, said in the brief, “The court’s decisions protecting my right to choose have been indispensable to all of the opportunities I’ve been able to pursue, both in my professional career as an attorney and in my personal life as a wife and mother.”

The brief was one of 45 filed on the side of Texas clinics by women’s rights groups, medical organizations and government entities, including the United States. Briefs supporting Texas are due early next month.

The amicus brief is posted at link below.

IMAGES:

Rally outside the Supreme Court protesting the court’s decision to uphold the federal ban on “partial birth” abortions. April 18, 2007. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ

Janice Mac Avoy. Photo: Larry Lettera

For more on this story go to: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202746266151/Women-Lawyers-Tell-Supreme-Court-About-Their-Own-Abortions#ixzz3wZODgkp7

 

 

 

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