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Lawyers of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We use this space to share articles written about Lawyers Club events and programs and items of interest to our members which are relevant to our mission. The opinions outlined in content published on the Lawyers Club of San Diego blog are those of the authors and not of Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to participate respectfully in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog. Guest writers are welcome.

 

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Guest Blog: 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 5

Posted By Courtney L. Wine, Monday, February 12, 2018

45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 5

 

Women Need More Choices

 

While in law school, I interned at the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr). I was hired by Sabrina Martucci Johnson, who was the organization’s CFO/CAO at the time. Ms. Johnson is an advocate for women, and any time we have spoken about reproductive rights, it has been obvious to me that she cares deeply about women’s access to reproductive health care.

 

Ms. Johnson is the founder and CEO of Daré Bioscience, a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company committed to the development and commercialization of innovative products in women’s reproductive health. Daré’s first clinical candidate is a nonhormonal contraceptive ring called Ovaprene®. By helping to develop a nonhormonal birth control ring, and thus expanding the options women have in that realm of health care, Ms. Johnson is advocating for women’s reproductive rights in a time when women’s health care is being challenged.

 

As part of a Lawyers Club blog series in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, here’s a summary of my interview with Ms. Johnson:

 

What is your role in the reproductive rights and services field?

 

SMJ: We founded Daré Bioscience to ensure that innovative products for reproductive health make it to market so that women have numerous choices when it comes to maintaining their reproductive health (whether it is contraception, vaginal health, menopause, fertility or sexual health). Expanding product choices helps enhance access and reduces stigma. I am also on the board of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest.  

 

What does the term "reproductive justice" mean to you?

 

SMJ: It means having access to the right products and services to address your specific reproductive needs and circumstances, no matter where you live, what your socioeconomic status is, your race, or your health.

 

How do you think reproductive rights and services have changed since Roe v. Wade or since you began your work?

 

SMJ: It has changed to expand beyond abortion to broader access to reproductive care, and beyond limited legal arguments to include the social and health factors that impact women's reproductive choices and decision-making ability.

 

What would you say is the number one need or reproductive service for those who have limited or no access to services in San Diego?

 

SMJ: More needs to be done on behalf of women and their families to deliver new and improved forms of contraception, fertility treatments and products for vaginal health. Bottom line: Women need more choices – including non-hormonal contraception – so that wherever they are in their reproductive lifecycle they have viable options.

 

We also need to continue to work hard to ensure that people have access to the information, services, and products they need. There are organizations that can provide appropriate, unbiased, and inclusive care, and we should make sure there is general awareness of these services.

 

For an interesting look at women’s health and the biotech industry, please read this STAT News article, co-authored by Ms. Johnson and Jessica Grossman, CEO of Medicines360. In the article, Ms. Johnson and Ms. Grossman articulate the barriers that women face regarding access to health options.

 

Courtney L. Wine wrote this for the Lawyers Club Reproductive Justice Committee and is contracts counsel at the California Institute for Biomedical Research.

Tags:  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee  reproductive rights 

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Guest Blog: 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 4

Posted By Christina Prejean, Tuesday, January 30, 2018
45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 4

 

As part of a Lawyers Club blog series in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, I interviewed Chrissy Cmorik, the Education Outreach Manager of the San Diego location of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW). Below, Ms. Cmorik details her role in the reproductive justice movement, and discusses both the changes made since Roe v. Wade and what still needs to be done to ensure that everyone has access to the reproductive services they need.

 

What is your role in the reproductive justice movement?

 

CC: My role at PPPSW is Education Manager. I ensure that our agency is providing medically accurate, inclusive, and comprehensive sexuality education in our communities. I ensure that all youth, regardless of their zip code or legal status, are receiving the same high quality sexuality education. I also train teachers, medical professionals, and other professionals on reproductive health as well as other topics around trauma informed care, sexual health disparities, values and sexuality. I have been a member of San Diego County’s SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) for 14 years. In this role, I respond to sexual assault cases to provide immediate counseling as well as advocacy to the survivor.

 

What does "reproductive justice" mean to you?

 

CC: Reproductive Justice is when all people have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality and reproduction for themselves, their families and their communities in all areas of their lives.

 

How do you think reproductive rights, services or access have changed since the Roe v. Wade decision?

 

CC: There have been many changes since Roe v. Wade that has improved access for some members of our communities, in regards to access to abortion, birth control and reproductive health in general. But many of our marginalized communities (rural population, people of color, youth, and LGBTQ people) have been left out of the conversation around health care needs and access. In the past 13 years since I have been working with PPPSW, I have seen how people are starting to become more aware of the intersectionality between health and many other social justice issues and the organizations starting to work together to address health disparities and access.

 

What would you say is the number one need or reproductive service for those who have limited or no access to reproductive services in San Diego?

 

CC: Transportation. In San Diego, we do not have a strong public transportation system like other big cities. It is difficult for those who do not drive or have access to a car to access services at our health centers.

 

Where do you think the reproductive justice movement is heading, locally, statewide and/or nationally?

 

CC: I think we are headed into creating easier ways to access services; mobile health centers, minute clinics, etc. I also think we are starting to work out of our normal silos and with other organizations to help address the whole person and all of their needs.

 

What are the best ways for attorneys and law students to help?

 

CC: Advocating against and working to eliminate T.R.A.P. (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws that infringe on a person’s access to reproductive health.

 

 

Christina Prejean is a civil litigation attorney at Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman, LLP, who also handles pro-bono cases through Casa Cornelia and Protect Our Defenders, and wrote this for the Reproductive Justice Committee.

Tags:  guest blogger  LCB  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee  reproductive rights 

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Guest Blog: 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 2

Posted By Tracy Rogers, Thursday, January 18, 2018
 

45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 2

 

As part of a Lawyers Club blog series in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, I interviewed Marsela Rojas-Salas, Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Coordinator with El Programa Hispano Católico. Ms. Rojas-Salas will be receiving the first ever Audre Lorde Emerging Leader Award at the 45th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade Breakfast Celebration Breakfast hosted by the San Diego Coalition for Reproductive Justice on Friday, January 26, 2018. Below is a summary of my interview.

 

Marsela Rojas-Salas moved to San Diego in 2015 for graduate school and in the spring of 2016, furthered her activism with California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ). With CLRJ, Rojas-Salas’s confidence in organizing began to grow. “The power of holding space for our traumas collectively, while organizing with and educating our community on reproductive justice issues was affirmed,” said Rojas-Salas.

 

Expanding the reproductive justice network has been critical to her role in the movement. This led to bringing No Más Bebes to San Diego State University, engaging students to become more critical of the history of sterilization against Latina immigrant women in Los Angeles. Rojas-Salas also co-facilitated a workshop on the differences between reproductive rights, health, and justice through the Women’s Resource Center.

 

In August of 2017, CLRJ staff hosted their first California Latinas Presente! in which members from the San Diego chapter recruited community members to join a Day of Action. CLRJ provided hands-on training on California's policy making process and effective policy advocacy strategies, followed by visits with federal and state legislators and their staff to discuss priority reproductive justice policy issues like the Gender Recognition Act, which passed in California!

 

Rojas-Salas wants readers to know that reproductive oppression and the resulting movement involves many overlapping societal factors. Reproductive oppression is represented through the forced sterilization of black, indigenous people of color in the 1960s and 1970s in Puerto Rico and Los Angeles; coerced sterilization of women in prisons that only recently ended in 2014; and the ways in which people with disabilities have been deemed unfit for parenthood.

 

Reproductive oppression is also illustrated by the ways in which the mainstream media portrays poor black women as “Welfare Queens,” and the children of undocumented women of color as “anchor babies” who seek to suck the system dry of its so-called benefits. Such stereotypes blame women of color for overpopulation and insufficient government funds, and thus, shape U.S. policy that is anti-immigrant, anti-black, and forces parents of color and their respective communities to struggle under capitalism.

 

Reproductive justice must also be about the right to have children and the right to raise youth in a world free of police brutality, environmental racism, sexual and gendered violence, homophobia and transphobia, violent detention centers and deportations, gentrification and displacement of communities of color, and so much more! This requires radical friendships, says Rojas-Salas. “For many of us, our politics and our activism are intimately tied to cultivating radical friendships with women, femmes, queer, and trans folks of color,” and many more.

 

When asked, “What are the best ways for attorneys and law students to help?” Marsela replied, “Utilize a reproductive justice lens in your work. There is an organization called “If/When/How” that supports law students in creating reproductive justice chapters on campus and even provides online toolkits on various issues such as reproductive justice in the prison system, women of color and the struggle for reproductive justice, reproductive justice for LGBTQ folks, as well as a chapter leader guide.”

 

Tracy Rogers is an appellate lawyer specializing in criminal appeals and wrote this as the Lawyers Club liaison to the San Diego Reproductive Justice Coalition.

Tags:  activism  guest blogger  LCB  politics  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee  reproductive rights 

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Guest Blog: 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 1

Posted By Mehry Mohseni, Tuesday, January 16, 2018

45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 1

 

As part of a Lawyers Club blog series in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, I interviewed Professor Kimala Price. Professor Price will be the guest speaker at the Reproductive Justice Committee meeting THIS THURSDAY, January 19, 2018, at 12:00 p.m. at DLA Piper downtown. Dr. Price will be sharing her experience working in the reproductive justice social movement, her most notable research findings, and she will share highlights from her next publication entitled Reproductive Politics in the United States. This meeting is open to all Lawyers Club members and lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to mehry.mohseni@gmail.com by January 16th, 2018.

 

Here’s a summary of my interview with Professor Price, who has been involved in the reproductive rights and justice movements for more than 25 years as a scholar and an activist:  

 

MM: What does "reproductive justice" mean to you?

 

KP: First of all, reproductive justice is different from the “pro-choice” framework. Reproductive justice is both a theoretical and political organizing framework based on human rights doctrine and social justice principles. “Choice” is based on individual rights to privacy and autonomy, often narrowly focused on abortion rights.

 

Reproductive justice argues that reproductive oppression not only happens to individual people, but also to entire communities, such as the systematic coercive sterilization of women of color, poor women, and women with disabilities in the US throughout the 20th century.

 

Reproductive justice is also intersectional in its approach to reproductive and sexual politics. We must understand how gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class, ability, and other markers of identity interact with each other and how various groups of women experience reproductive oppression differently.  

 

MM: How do you think reproductive rights have been affected since the Roe v. Wade decision?

 

KP: Reproductive rights and justice have been under constant attack ever since the Roe decision. The Hyde Amendment (1976) bans the use of federal funding for abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, states have enacted 231 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2014. At the state and federal level, there have been efforts to cut family planning funding in general. All of these and other actions have made it more difficult for many women, especially low-income women, to access reproductive and sexual health services, although these services are legal.

 

MM: What are the best ways for attorneys and law students to help?

 

KP: The first step is to become better educated about the framework. There are a few “classic” books that laid the groundwork for the reproductive justice framework: Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts; Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice by Jael Silliman, Marlene Fried Gerber, Loretta Ross, and Elena Gutiérrez; and, Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America by Rickie Solinger.

 

Another step is to support reproductive justice organizations by donating money, becoming members, and volunteering. I suggest supporting the smaller organizations run by women of color such as SisterSong, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Black Women for Wellness, Forward Together, and ACCESS Women's Health Justice.

 

I also suggest talking about RJ issues with your personal network of friends, acquaintances, and family. Post about these issues on social media, and hold elected officials accountable for reproductive justice issues. Commit to getting more young people involved in the RJ movement and in politics in general.

 

To learn more, RSVP for the January 19th Reproductive Justice Committee meeting where Dr. Price will be speaking (email me at mehry.mohseni@gmail.com).

 

Mehry Mohseni is a family law attorney with the firm Cage & Miles, LLP and wrote this as RJC Co-Chair. 

Tags:  LCB  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee  reproductive rights  women of color 

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My So-Called First World Problems: Meet Tim Murphy

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Wednesday, November 1, 2017
My So-Called First World Problems: Meet Tim Murphy

A day before his life imploded, (former) Congressman Tim Murphy, a longtime member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, cast a vote in favor of a bill banning all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.


(Former) Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA)’s was forced to announce a hasty resignation from office when his mistress’ divorce proceedings revealed that:


a) Congressman Tim Murphy was engaged in an extramarital affair with one Dr. Shannon Edwards;

b) Dr. Edwards experienced a pregnancy “scare” as a result of her relationship with Murphy; and,

c) Murphy’s response to the pregnancy “scare” was to encourage Dr. Edwards to abort.


I have long imagined that the pro-life community harbored those who, when push came to shove, would avail themselves of the safe, legal abortion they spent so much energy railing against. But I was caught off-guard when an eight-term U.S. congressman and enthusiastic House Pro-Life Caucus member was exposed for having encouraged his own sexual partner to abort.


Murphy, a sexagenarian, (was) a full-time federal employee and a practicing psychologist. His mistress, age 32, is likewise a psychologist. These are people who can afford their co-pays, who can afford travel, who would never have to sleep in their car if forced to travel to obtain a medical procedure. There was no sexual assault. No incest. These were not lusty teenagers. There was no apparent concern about maternal health or fetal abnormalities. These people are not impoverished, and (former) Congressman Murphy’s only child is grown, so it is doubtful that he is currently overwhelmed by the demands of parenting. 


This is a case of two highly educated, older adults, with the ability to self-determine, to choose whether to engage in sexual activity (extra-marital or otherwise), and finally, these are people with the freedom to choose whether to embrace the unintended consequences of their sexual activities or not.


I mention this because a recent 14-country study showed that most women report seeking abortion because of socioeconomic reasons, because they want no more children, or because they wish to space their children.


It’s not for me to dictate the circumstances under which someone else should be able to obtain an abortion, and I recognize that the circumstances of Edwards’ putative pregnancy were less than ideal. But, it is difficult to imagine a greater act of hypocrisy than encouraging your mistress to abort while devoting much energy to making abortions more difficult to obtain. The cherry on top is that a mere day before the revelations about the affair, the pregnancy, etc. broke, (former) Congressman Murphy voted to ban all abortions after 20 weeks.

When a pregnancy is inconvenient for the man, let's allow abortion with impunity. When the pregnancy impacts the woman's life plans, throw as many barriers in her way as possible. Liberal men certainly have their share of sex scandals. (Remember San Diego Mayor Bob Filner?) But, these men don't flout a philosophical adherence to puritanical sexual mores, nor do they publicly advocate putting the kibosh on a woman's ability to self-determine. Or, as Jennifer Weiner puts it, they are not, "pro-life in the streets, pro-choice in the sheets."

So, to (former) Congressman Tim Murphy: Good night, sweet prince. And may flights of angels sing thee to thy departure from public life.

 

Rebecca Zipp co-chairs the Women's Advocacy Committee, serves as Lawyers Club Board Secretary, prosecutes securities fraud at the San Diego District Attorney's Office, and recently began composting.

Tags:  abortion  abortion access  anti-abortion  Bob Filner  congress  hypocrisy  LCB  reproductive rights  Tim Murphy 

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Guest Blog: "Lawyers Club of San Diego has a New Committee Focusing on Reproductive Justice"

Posted By Mehry Mohseni, Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"Lawyers Club of San Diego has a New Committee Focusing on Reproductive Justice"

 

Lawyers Club of San Diego has two new committees – The Reproductive Justice Committee and the Women’s Advocacy Committee. The two are a split of the former Reproductive Rights and Women’s Advocacy Committee. Why the split and why change from reproductive rights to reproductive justice?

 

Many of the victories won under the reproductive rights movement have typically been limited to two topics: access to contraception, and the availability of safe and legal abortion. At the very core of the movement is a desire for these basic rights to be guaranteed under the law. But for many, particularly women of color, the fight does not end there. A much broader set of concerns stems from the barriers for many women in actually realizing these rights.

 

Thus, a change in the movement arose, and the term “reproductive justice” was originally coined to represent the unique fight of women of color for reproductive rights, blended with an ongoing fight for social justice. Reproductive justice moves beyond the focus of individual choice, and closely examines the way in which our communities and government may create inequality for women through limited or no individual reproductive choice.

 

The term Reproductive Justice has been defined as: “The complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women's human rights.” It’s important to note this movement stretches beyond a woman’s right to limit the number of children, if any, she wishes to have. It also addresses the right a woman has to raise her children with dignity in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment.

 

Including the important perspective of a diverse group of women allows the movement to unfold layers of oppression that our communities face, through an intersectional analysis of women's “real life” experiences. Some of these cross-sections include women of color, women with disabilities, incarcerated women, women involved in sex work or sex trade, low-income women, and LGBTQ women.

 

One alarming and complex example of the reproductive justice analysis occurred in Texas in 2011 after state lawmakers decreased funding for family planning services by 66 percent, closing 82 family planning clinics. Not only did low-income women in particular have less access to birth control, but the number of pregnancy-related deaths doubled from 78 in 2010 to 148 in 2011.

 

A task force was created to examine this increase and discovered a shocking statistic - African-American mothers accounted for 11.4 percent of Texas births in 2011 and 2012, but 28.8 percent of pregnancy-related deaths. The task force stated the overall increase in deaths was likely due to a “multitude of factors," including the funding decrease coupled with a lack of affordable health care for low-income women. The reproductive justice framework analyzes the effect of these drastic funding cuts from the perspective of women of color and low-income women who are already at risk of not realizing their full reproductive health needs.

 

I’m excited to Co-Chair the new Reproductive Justice Committee this year and to challenge Lawyers Club members to view reproductive health not just from the legal stand point that we are used to, but in a more complex and broader context of well-being and community. I hope you will join us!

 

(Meetings are held the first Friday of the month at 12:00-1:00p.m. at DLA Piper downtown. Contact Mehry Mohseni or Chelsea Mutual with any questions on how to get involved.)

Mehry Mohseni is a family law attorney with Cage & Miles, LLP and co-chair of the Reproductive Justice Committee. 

 

Tags:  guest blogger  LCB  reproductive justice  reproductive rights  womens advocacy committee  women's advocacy committee 

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more Calendar

3/1/2019
19th Annual COC Spring Read-In

3/8/2019
International Women's Day Luncheon

5/9/2019
Save the Date! LC Annual Dinner

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