Dear Friends and Allies,
Why support National Advocates for Pregnant Women? Because none of us would be here without them.
The fact is none of us would be here without someone who became pregnant and gave birth. Yet the health care pregnant people need to survive and to thrive (and what the survival of the species requires) is categorized separately as reproductive health - as if it is something that only a small "special interest" subgroup of humans need.
Similarly, pregnant women's civil and human rights to dignity, bodily integrity, and medical decision-making are also categorized separately - as reproductive rights. Even those rights too often are reduced in public discourse and advocacy to just one: the right to abortion.
NAPW has made significant progress in bringing attention to the fact that anti-abortion measures threaten the civil and human rights of all people with the capacity for pregnancy and undermine health care with regard to all aspects of pregnancy. At the beginning of 2019, the New York Times published its extraordinary editorial series, "A Woman's Rights," inspired by and featuring NAPW's work. The 8-part multimedia series focused on the civil and human rights of all pregnant women. It exposed how claims of fetal rights are being used to undermine women's rights and brought attention to the relationship between claims of rights for fetuses, anti-abortion laws, and the criminalization of pregnant women. The series was read by millions of people in the U.S. and worldwide.
With your support, NAPW's ideas are informing and building the base of activists, organizations, and experts fighting for reproductive health, rights, and justice.
In addition to the New York Times series, NAPW Senior Staff Attorney Amber Khan's article, "The Crime Was Pregnancy," ran in Ms. Magazine and NAPW Senior Staff Attorney Aarin M. Williams was featured on an Emmy Award-winning episode of CNN's "United Shades of America" where she spoke with W. Kamau Bell about intersectionality and reproductive justice and health. She explained, "If you want healthy babies then you have to take care of the woman. You have to make sure she's healthy." As 2019 comes to a close, NAPW's analysis of the broad impact of anti-abortion measures - including those in nine states that effectively banned abortion in the earliest stages of pregnancy - has been featured in an Al Jazeera documentary television program.
With Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, a president committed to policies that support white supremacy and male supremacy (including ending the right to abortion), and a country still wedded to the criminal law and child welfare systems as the answer to virtually every health and social welfare problem, NAPW's legal advocacy work will be needed more than ever in 2020. Indeed the numbers demonstrate the need for NAPW's work. NAPW documented 413 arrests based on pregnancy between 1975 and 2005; since 2005 alone, more than 800 women have been arrested.
NAPW needs your support to make sure that no one is arrested, detained, or subjected to forced treatment because they are pregnant, because they use any substance, or because of any pregnancy outcome, including birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion.
In fact, by combining legal advocacy with organizing and public education, and with your help, NAPW is still winning cases that free individual women from prisons and jails, keep families together, and set positive precedents beyond the individual cases.
This year in Tennessee, we helped free Tiffany Roberts. Ms. Roberts was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and neglect, and "viable fetus as a victim" after she gave birth prematurely to twins at 23 weeks who died shortly after birth. To justify the outrageous notion that people can be held criminally liable for the outcome of their pregnancies, the police claimed that this pregnancy loss was the result of Ms. Roberts' alleged drug use. She was jailed on a one million dollar bond. NAPW and a coalition of Tennessee and national advocates and experts spoke out quickly and forcefully against the arrest. In response, these charges - that violated the U.S. Constitution, defied state law, and had no support in medical science - were dropped.
In Alabama, a grand jury indicted Marshae Jones for the crime of manslaughter. Why? Because she experienced a pregnancy loss that she allegedly caused by being unable to protect herself from being shot in the stomach while five months pregnant. As a result of our long-term work in Alabama, we were able to play a vital role in Ms. Jones' case. We supported regional allies who raised bail and made sure Ms. Jones was released from jail within 24 hours of her arrest. Our comments to the media and our public statement on the case directed national outrage to the District Attorney who dropped the manslaughter charge and agreed not to file any other charge.
NAPW fights to ensure that the half of all people in the U.S. who have the capacity for pregnancy also have civil and human rights.
Our efforts and our victories - large and small - demonstrate the importance and impact of organizing in an era when we can count less and less on courts and legislators. NAPW knows that much more than abortion is at stake in June Medical Services LLC v. Gee, the case the U.S. Supreme Court will be considering this term. We also know that no matter what happens at the Supreme Court, people will get pregnant and need NAPW's help to access respectful, confidential health care, whether they are continuing a pregnancy, having an abortion, or giving birth.
Your ongoing support will make it possible for NAPW to continue our work to ensure that the U.S. Constitution's promise of liberty and equality protects everyone, including pregnant women.
Lynn M. Paltrow
Founder and Executive Director