Spring 2015

Reigniting Passions about Longstanding Precedent 

While Roe v. Wade tends to get the spotlight when it comes to discussing abortion jurisprudence, the lesser-known Harris v. McRae is responsible for putting the right enshrined in Roe out of reach for poor women, as CRRJ's Executive Director Jill E. Adams and Jessica Arons laid out in " A Travesty of Justice:  Revisiting Harris v. McRae" in the latest edition of William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law.    


The 1980 U.S. Supreme Court case upheld the constitutionality of the Hyde Amendment--an annual appropriations measure that denies Medicaid coverage for abortion except for life-threatening pregnancies or those resulting from rape or incest. The decision allows for a two-tiered system, where those who qualify for--and need--financial assistance have to find the money to pay for an abortion out of pocket.  


"It is because of the court's quick retreat in
McRae from its own precedent in Roe that the debate around abortion rights has lingered for so long, flaring up with every new federal and state limit and every lawsuit challenging them. In short, it is largely because of McRae that Roe is no longer a reality for so many women and, frankly, hasn't been for years," Adams and Arons wrote in an op-ed piece for Ms. magazine's blog.


There are nine million women of reproductive age who are currently enrolled in Medicaid, and seven million others may qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. According to Adams and Arons, an estimated one out of every three poor women carry a pregnancy to term because they do not have money to pay for an abortion. And a recent study showed that a woman who cannot obtain a desired abortion is three times more likely to fall into poverty within two years, creating a vicious cycle where women cannot escape from their financial situation.


"What these women know all too well, but the slim majority of the McRae court apparently did not, is that the constitutional right to an abortion means little if a woman lacks the resources to access care," Adams and Arons continued in the op-ed, supporting their latest journal article.


The authors will present their work at the National Network of Abortion Funds Summit in June and at the Law Students for Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute in July. 

Casebook Grabbing Headlines

Cases on Reproductive Rights and Justice (Foundation Press), co-authored by CRRJ Faculty Directors Melissa Murray and Kristin Luker, has struck a chord in the teaching and advocacy communities, with news agencies across the country praising its release as long overdue.  Read more about this groundbreaking casebook in our press release, as well as on the ACS blog, Berkeley Law homepage, RH Reality Check, Colorlines, and LA Times 

Spotlighting Spring Semester Events

CRRJ Directors Dazzle at ACS Bay Area Lawyers Chapter Gala


Professor Melissa Murray interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winner and former U.S.   Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, Linda Greenhouse, on the topic of "Griswold at 50: Reproductive Rights in Peril" on March 17th at the Bay Area Lawyers Chapter of the American Constitution Society's Sixth Annual Gala. Jill E. Adams introduced Murray and Greenhouse at the gala, in addition to presenting awardsto Congresswoman Jackie Speier and CoreAlign.



Professor Murray Grills Griswold v. Connecticut



Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court decided Griswold v. Connecticut, famously  articulating the right to privacy. In this standing-room only lunchtime talk, Professor Melissa Murray discussed the pre-Griswold landscape, the decision, and its implications for the future of reproductive rights and justice.



Jill E. Adams Testifies against California's Welfare Family Cap 


On March 24th, Jill E. Adams testified before the California Senate Human Services Committee in support of Senator Holly Mitchell's SB 23, which would end the Maximum Family Grant Rule of CalWORKS.  View the hearing here (begins at minute 19). To read more about the issue, read CRRJ's brief here.
CRRJ Student Researcher Recognized
Berkeley Law 3L Eliza Duggan (pictured at left with fellow CRRJ Student Researcher, Kate Meyer) has been named the third-place winner of the tenth annual Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights Law, co-sponsored by Law Students for Reproductive Justice and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Eliza's award-winning paper was written in conjunction with Professor Melissa Murray's Fall 2014 Regulating Sex and Sexuality seminar. 

Coincidentally, Berkeley Law has a great track record with the Weddington Prize.  Eliza joins Alison Hartry ('11), who won first place in the competition in 2011, and Lauren Goldsmith ('13), who received an honorable mention in 2013.