Two groups of law students hosted a conversation about reproductive rights on Friday in response to a February 9 program around the abortion planned by the Federalist Society. The Federalist Society event – titled “Does Women’s Equality Require Abortion?” — featured jurist Erika Bachiochi. The event drew criticism from law students for being misleading, as well as transphobic comments previously made by Bachiochi.
The Federalist Society is made up of conservative and libertarian law students with the goal of promoting the principles of individual liberty, the separation of governmental powers, and the rule of law. According to his websitethe organization does this through lectures, debates and panels on contemporary topics.
Federalist Society event draws criticism
Prior to the event, the If/When/How management issued a open letter. Despite characterizing the event as a discussion, If/When/How said only one viewpoint or response was included. If/When/How is a pro-choice organization made up of law students seeking to expand reproductive rights.
The letter called on the Federalist Society to open up the topic to different perspectives, highlighting the long-term support for access to abortion by a majority of Americans and the growing risk to reproductive health care with the growth of restrictive state abortion laws.
“To answer the call of the Federalist’s Society event, yes, women’s equality requires abortion,” the letter read. “Since the event is designed as a dialogue, we implore the Federalist Society to include a wider range of perspectives in this event.”
Ten other law student organizations and more than 190 students have signed in support of the letter. Other signatory organizations include the American Constitution Society at U.Va. Law, International Refugee Assistance Project at U.Va. Law, Women of Color at U.Va. Law, National Lawyers Guild at U.Va. Law and Virginia Law Democrats.
The If/When/How letter highlights Bachiochi’s past views, citing a Youtube video during which Bachiochi says that “easy access to abortion served to absolve men of any responsibility for having sex with a woman”.
The letter also cites concerns about Bachiochi’s centering of cisgender and heterosexual relationships in abortion debates as well as “blatant transphobia,” referencing comments Bachiochi wrote in a 2016 item that characterize the legal recognition of transgender women as a threat to non-trans women.
“Bachiochi’s disdain for a woman’s autonomy over her own body is deeply troubling,” the letter read.
Bachiochi responded to the letter’s claims in a Tweeter before the event.
“U.Va. Law student organizations called my views ‘fringe’ while linking to NYT & Politico articles,” Bachiochi wrote. ‘cisgender women issue.’ Gotta love when protesters do your PR for you.
Despite the letter, the society’s Feb. 9 event began as planned with a presentation by Bachiochi, whose areas of legal specialization include equal protection, feminist legal theory, Catholic social teaching and ethics. sexual. His law journal articles criticism the legal basis of the right to abortion and challenge the idea that the right to abortion improves women’s equality.
Bachiochi’s presentation was based on his research and arguments presented in a previous item published for Quinnipiac Law Review. She began by detailing the legal and historical context of abortion rights in the United States, with particular emphasis on the Family planning c. Casey Supreme Court case, which followed Roe v. Wade and reinforced the Court’s ruling that abortion was constitutionally legal.
In a 2020 review room for The Atlantic, Bachiochi argued that the view of autonomy as central to citizenship propagates a male-centered ideal that places parenthood and attachment as symbols of dependency.
“Equality based on the power to end life is not true equality at all,” Bachiochi wrote.
Bachiochi also took issue with the primary reasoning cited by the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey – in particular that there was already an accessible recourse to abortion and that abortion promoted equal economic and social access for women.
Chloe Fife, LLA president and first-year law student, said she doesn’t think the question of whether abortion is necessary should be up for debate.
“It is expected that abortion rights will be seriously challenged by the Supreme Court this year,” Fife said. “We need to have these conversations and we need to challenge anyone who seeks to undermine access to abortion.”
Fife described recent events as disturbing, such as the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law prohibit all abortions after 15 weeks, including in cases of rape and incest, except those that endanger the life of the pregnant woman. The law explicitly violates Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and the Court’s decision to hear the case was interpreter as a potential threat to the legalization of abortion in the United States
The Federalist Society declined to comment on the event, adding that the group does not issue statements or commentary.
Friday’s roundtable makes the case for inclusive reproductive rights
Student leaders from If/When/How and the Lambda Law Alliance hosted their own event to offer an alternative perspective on the topic of reproductive rights. the ALL is a group of law students founded to provide support and advocacy efforts to those who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
the Event was moderated by law professor Anne Coughlin. Panelists included Ting Ting Cheng, director of the Equal Rights Ammendment Project at Columbia Law School, Tannis Fuller, executive director of the Blue Ridge Abortion Fund, and Chris Barcelos, assistant professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Coughlin began by reinforcing her belief that the Federalist Society’s choice to include only one speaker in their conversation centered on women’s equality excluded the LGBTQ+ community from the dialogue.
“The goal is to resist the constraints imposed by a jurisprudential approach that has the effect of silencing and can be calculated to silence the voices of people of color LGBTQ+ people transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people, with the many other people who don’t fit into the female and male categories, envisioned by the Federalist society question,” Coughlin said.
Barcelos compared the barriers to abortion with the limitations of gender-affirming surgeries for the transgender community.
“They are part of a control system that limits the autonomy of marginalized people to control their own reproduction, their own body, their own future,” Barcelos said.
Cheng explained his work with the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposal amendment to the Constitution which would remove legal distinctions between men and women in areas such as divorce, employment and property. Currently, 38 states have ratified the amendment, which Cheng says has a direct link to abortion rights.
“There was this relationship where ERA advocates could kind of say, ‘well, there’s no relationship between ERA and abortion and reproductive rights,'” Cheng said. . “That just can’t be true because ERA is about financial equality. I don’t see anything to trigger financial equality other than bodily autonomy.
Cheng highlighted the contributions of marginalized communities to both promoting the Equal Rights Amendment and reproductive rights.
“There’s a lot to honor – black contributions and also gender nonconforming [people] that got us to where we are today,” Cheng said.