Dear Friends and Allies,
Thank you for your commitment to National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). Whether we met you a few weeks ago or you've been with us for years, you are helping us free women from incarceration, keep families together, and stop forced medical interventions. Thanks to you, we can continue our efforts to protect the right to choose abortion and, more fundamentally, to champion pregnant women's equal rights and status as full constitutional persons.
Together we are doing this work in a frightening political context, one that has included relentless attacks on the Affordable Care Act, the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, and a president who encourages hate and violence.
To NAPW, the president's repeated call to "lock her up" is not merely a chant he uses to fire up his base. It is an attack on the principle of liberty for women. And, it is a reality for the hundreds of women who are already being locked up for being pregnant and having an abortion, experiencing a pregnancy loss, or disagreeing with a doctor's advice.
A year-end donation to NAPW will help us continue providing pro bono, expert legal defense to ensure women's liberty.
For example, Virginia won't be locking up Michelle Roberts who was facing felony charges of "producing an abortion" after she experienced a stillbirth at home. NAPW experts examined the evidence and found that there was no basis for the prosecution's medical claims. Based on the strength of NAPW's expert reports, the prosecutor dropped his efforts to lock Ms. Roberts up and our client's legal ordeal finally reached an end.
Arkansas won't be locking up Anne Bynum who was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 6 years in prison because prosecutors wanted to punish her for what they wrongfully believed was an at-home abortion. In fact, she had experienced a stillbirth. That, however, did not stop prosecutors who are interested in controlling women's lives and bodies from coming up with criminal charges against her - including the archaic crime of "concealing a birth." NAPW represented Ms. Bynum on her appeal, got her original conviction overturned, and on November 30, 2018, resolved her case without a retrial and without a plea to any crime.
In Indiana, NAPW helped stop prosecutors from keeping Bei Bei Shuai and Purvi Patel locked up. Recently Indiana prosecutors tried yet again to use their feticide law to lock up another woman, Kelli Driskel. In 2018, Ms. Driskel faced feticide and involuntary manslaughter charges after experiencing a stillbirth. Once again, NAPW brought our extensive legal experience along with our commitment to organizing and education. We helped local counsel prepare a motion to dismiss the charges and working with Indiana and national allies, prepared an open letter calling on the prosecutor to drop the charges and set Ms. Driskel free. And, in September, that is exactly what he did.
Because of your support, NAPW has been able to build much needed infrastructure. For example, we have increased the number of staff attorneys who have significant experience in criminal and parent defense, birth justice, and international human rights. Because of you, we can counter jeering calls to "lock her up" with legal victories that set women free!
Please give to NAPW so that we can continue to bring attention to and advocate for the growing number of pregnant women threatened with arrest and other forms of government control and surveillance.
Our op-ed earlier this year in the New York Times drew new attention to the number of pregnant women who have been locked up and to the prospect of even more arrests if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Indeed, the new Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court recently made clear that, in his view, all that stands between pregnant women who have abortions and being arrested for murder and receiving the death penalty is
Roe v. Wade.
NAPW needs your financial contribution so that we can not only work to preserve Roe v. Wade, but also to stop the criminalization and dehumanization of pregnant women. We need your support to continue NAPW's advocacy inside courtrooms and, whether that succeeds or fails, on the streets.
During this past year, a federal court of appeals used technical legal grounds to set aside our hard-won district court victory declaring Act 292, Wisconsin's "Unborn Child Protection Act", unconstitutionally vague (Act 292 is the law that allows Wisconsin to lock up and forcibly "treat" pregnant women who use any amount of alcohol or a controlled substance). And, while most of us think that pregnant women, like all adults, have a right to refuse surgery, lower New York State courts have so far upheld a hospital's secret policy authorizing doctors to perform major surgery on pregnant women without their consent.
NAPW is not giving up. That is why NAPW, partnering with Reproaction, now has an organizer on the ground in Wisconsin. This organizer is using direct action to build opposition to Act 292 in a state where the governor and attorney general, who have staunchly defended the law, lost their bids for re-election. In addition, NAPW has hired a full-time organizer who will start by developing a campaign to end all policies in New York's largest hospital system that allow doctors to deny pregnant patients their fundamental rights to liberty, bodily integrity, medical decision making, privacy, and informed consent.
NAPW will take the organizing and local power building lessons learned from these campaigns forward to build our capacity to defend pregnant women in the courts, in the streets, and everywhere across the nation.
We have often said: "We need your support now, more than ever." This remains incontrovertibly true today. Please make a generous contribution to NAPW.
Help NAPW ensure that no one is locked up, shamed, or denied their rights because they have the capacity for pregnancy, are pregnant, or because of any outcome of a pregnancy.
Lynn M. Paltrow
Founder and Executive Director