Public Education

Public Education

NAPW wins cases and brings new constituencies to the fight for reproductive and social justice through our public education and strategic communications work.

While people are generally familiar with the highly political debate about abortion in the U.S. today, many people find it hard to believe that:

  • Women are being arrested because they had or sought to have an abortion;
  • Women who became pregnant, who do not want to end their pregnancies, and who may even identify as “pro-life” are sometimes arrested, forced to have unwanted medical interventions during labor and delivery because of anti-abortion and related laws passed to protect “unborn” life;
  • Claims about pregnant women and drug use are often flat out wrong;
  • Depriving pregnant women of their civil rights because they allegedly use some amount of alcohol or a criminalized substance opens the door to depriving all pregnant women of all of their rights, including the right to choose to have an abortion;
  • In many areas of law and policy, pregnancy provides an excuse to deny women their fundamental constitutional and human rights.
  • Securing reproductive health and rights for all people, including pregnant women, requires collaborative, intersectional work to eliminate racism and other forms of discrimination.

Connecting Issues

NAPW develops and implements a variety of public education and communications strategies to expose connections between issues — such as the efforts to prohibit women from having abortions, historic efforts to prohibit people from using alcohol, and current efforts to prohibit people from using certain drugs. NAPW identifies and challenges the less recognized attacks on Roe v. Wade and reproductive freedom through “personhood” measures, feticide laws, gender discriminatory advance directive laws, and drug policies that set precedent for using the criminal law system to address other public health issues such as pregnancy and pregnancy outcome.

NAPW inspires and informs. Through our public education efforts, we remind people that there are not two different kinds of women — those who have abortions and those who have babies. They are the same human beings just at different times in their lives. And, NAPW teaches that whether people identify as “pro-choice” or “pro-life” they have shared interests in ensuring the health and dignity of all pregnant women whatever the outcome of their pregnancies.

Providing Expertise to Media

NAPW provides our expertise to a wide range of sources including national media, local newspapers, online outlets, medical journals and documentary films. NAPW also speaks to diverse audiences at conferences, continuing education programs, forums, and other gatherings. We also produce our own videos and sponsor Webinars. In addition, we use our resources to support local activists to write and publish in their own communities.

Conducting Research and Writing Commentary

NAPW conducts research and produces articles and commentary that help us win cases and debunk the junk science and medical misinformation used to undermine the reproductive health, rights and personhood of pregnant women. Through our public education efforts, we expose decades of misinformation and political posturing about pregnancy and drug use and take every opportunity to correct the misinformation behind destructive and dehumanizing stereotypes about pregnant women, drug users, and the Black, Brown and rural white mothers disproportionately targeted for state surveillance and control.

NAPW also organizes and sponsors catalytic conferences and continuing legal education programs that have sparked new collaborations, spurred the creation of new organizations, and motivated new people to take action for reproductive and social justice. Our first major conference in 2002 addressed the broad implications for all pregnant women (not just those seeking to have an abortion) of establishing separate rights for fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses. In 2007, NAPW organized an unprecedented National Summit to Ensure the Health and Humanity of Pregnant and Birthing Women, that brought together advocates for both birthing rights and abortion rights, recognizing that the same women who have abortions also give birth and all have shared interests in ensuring the health and rights of pregnant women. We have also held major continuing education programs in New York and Tennessee giving people working in the fields of child welfare and criminal law the opportunity to hear from actual experts on issues relating to pregnant women and drug use. Our New York program resulted in much greater and more zealous advocacy for low-income mothers in the child welfare system and our conference in Tennessee, co-sponsored by the National Perinatal Association, helped bring about the end of Tennessee’s Fetal Assault Law in 2016. That law had authorized the arrest of women in relationship to their pregnancies for such things as attempting to have an abortion and using any amount of any controlled substance.

NAPW'S WORK: PUBLIC EDUCATION