Efforts to recognize the fetus as a legal person have been used, increasingly, to restrict reproductive freedom over the last decade. The growing recognition of fetal rights under the law not only has significant implications for women's reproductive rights, but also has far-reaching consequences in the areas of medicine, legal practice, civil rights, women's rights, racial justice, public health and welfare, drug policy reform, child welfare, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, labor issues, and economic justice. In short, nearly every faction of the progressive social justice movement is affected by these measures.
Working at the intersection of these issues, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women has long recognized that solving the problems associated with claims of fetal rights and the maternal-state conflicts they create requires the joint efforts of doctors, lawyers, academics, activists, journalists, and concerned citizens from a variety of issue-area backgrounds. In light of this understanding, the NAPW sought funding for, planned, and sponsored a conference January 25th-27th, 2002 in New York City, entitled "Maternal-State Conflicts: Claims of Fetal Rights and the Well-Being of Women and Families."
The conference, made possible by funding from the Overbrook Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Open Society Institute, was co-sponsored by the Mt. Sinai-based Clinical Education Initiative (CEI). The event took place over thee days, including a limited attendance, full-day, pre-conference, coalition-building training, facilitated by Be Present, Inc. on Friday January 25th, followed by two days of informational sessions, roundtable discussions, and skill-building workshops.
During the event, NAPW brought together experts from medical, academic, legal, health care, public policy, and research fields, with activists and women personally affected by state interventions made in the name of fetal rights. Sessions were designed so that participants could learn more about the issues and develop coalitions and collaborations to protect and promote the well-being of women and their families. Over 175 people attended, bringing with them experience and expertise in the areas of reproductive rights, HIV, child welfare, drug policy, bioethics, welfare reform, youth activism, harm reduction, domestic violence, and sexual abuse, to name a few.
NAPW is very grateful for the extraordinary commitment and contributions of the speakers and participants at the conference. Some who attended felt that the conference marked the beginning of many new collaborations, coalitions, and movement for reproductive freedom and human rights. We know that it has provided us with inspiration and resources for carrying on and expanding the work of NAPW.
For more information about the Maternal-State Conflicts conference, you can contact us, or hear it for yourself by ordering a set of tapes with the downloadable form. Just fill it out and mail it, along with a check made payable to National Advocates for Pregnant Women at the address below. If you would like to learn more about NAPW, become an NAPW regional activist, or be added our mailing list to receive notice about future events, please contact us:
National Advocates for Pregnant Women
45 West 10th Street #3F
New York, New York 10011