NAPW Writing Contest
National Advocates for Pregnant Women and our contest cosponsors are proud to announce the winners of our second law student writing competition.
This year, the contest asked law students to critically analyze the absence of birthing rights issues from gender discrimination and feminist jurisprudence textbooks and curricula. Reproductive justice groups are increasingly recognizing women’s right to dignity and medical autonomy during childbirth within the scope of their advocacy. Meanwhile, birth activists are increasingly making connections between their issues and other reproductive justice issues, such as targeted regulation of both birthing centers and abortion providers, or the unsubstantiated claims by state legislatures that women seeking abortions are denied informed consent while it is women who carry to term who report that they were not given informed consent or even underwent procedures they explicitly refused.
Feminist jurisprudence, however, has some catching up to do. Our purpose in creating the writing contest is twofold: first, to introduce law students to issues in the law that they may not be familiar with, and second, to create a body of legal scholarship on these issues that can be used by advocates and cited by courts.
We are extremely proud of this year’s winners, and hope that they will continue to advocate on behalf of women during pregnancy and childbirth. The winners are:
Rebecca Spence, Abandoning Women to Their Rights: What Happens When Feminist Jurisprudence Ignores Birthing Rights
Kirsten Hiera, Human Rights Implications of Obstetrical Interventions
Birthing Rights as a Matter of Gender Equality
This contest asks for a critical analysis of the absence of birthing rights issues from gender discrimination and feminist jurisprudence textbooks and curricula (in fact, none of the top three casebooks used in law school courses dedicated to gender and the law address the issue of childbirth or midwifery).
Download the flier
Download the full prompt
After much deliberation by our esteemed panel of expert judges, the winners of NAPW’s first law student writing contest have been selected. Co-sponsored by 19 organizations and individuals, this contest was designed to advance feminist legal scholarship on the subject of pregnant women’s civil and human rights. Specifically, it asked law students to address the statutory, constitutional, and/or human rights arguments that can be made to challenge the trend of banning pregnant women from having a vaginal birth after a caesarean section (VBAC). The subject of the contest is particularly timely. Recently, the story of Joy Szabo, an Arizona mother forced to travel over 300 miles from home in an effort to avoid unnecessary surgery, has been the subject of both local and national media attention. Even CNN covered the story, raising unprecedented awareness of the fact that VBAC is unattainable at nearly half of all U.S. hospitals due to either explicit policies or lack of willing providers.
NAPW and co-sponsors hoped this contest would encourage a new generation of legal scholars to address birthing issues as proper subjects of academic research and legal action. We are proud to announce the winners of this cutting-edge contest:
First Prize: Krista Stone-Manista, Northwestern University Law School,
“In the Manner Prescribed By the State”: Potential Challenges to State-Enforced Hospital Limitations on Childbirth Options
(Under consideration for publication through special arrangement with the Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender)
Second Prize: Elizabeth Kukura, New York University School of Law,
Choice in Birth: Preserving Access to VBAC
(Pending publication, Penn State Law Review, winter 2009 issue)
Third Prize: Paul Christopher Torio, Santa Clara University School of Law
Nature Versus Suture: Why VBAC Should Still Be in Vogue(Accepted for publication in the Women's Rights Law Reporter at Rutgers University, Volume 31, Issue 4)
Honorable Mention: L. Indra Lusero, University of Denver, Sturm College of Law Challenging Hospital VBAC Bans Through Tort Liability: Reasonableness and the Limits of Informed Consent
We were very pleased by the quality of the responses that we received, particularly considering that this is likely to be the first time that many law students have considered birthing issues as civil and human rights issues.
We have the rare pleasure of knowing that the Contest is already having the desired influence on feminist jurisprudence and advocacy in the field. In addition to the publication of at least two of the papers, UDC Clarke School of Law student Lisa Pratt recently presented a paper inspired by the contest at Perinatal: A Symposium on Birth Practices and Reproductive Rights, symposium on birth practices and reproductive rights. Her paper, which proposes civil rights legislation protecting pregnant women’s informed consent and decision-making in childbirth, was an inspiring call to action for the birth activists and legal experts assembled.
Because we believe that the issue of women’s rights during labor is critical to the study of gender and the law, we are sponsoring another contest this year on birthing rights. We will continue our outreach to law students and our efforts to encourage emerging legal scholars to push for the inclusion of birthing issues in the discussion of feminist jurisprudence.
Congratulations to the contest winners, and good luck to the 2009-2010 contestants!
Writing Contest Co-Sponsors:
Our Bodies, Ourselves
International Center for Traditional Childbearing
American Association of Birth Centers
Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery
Citizens for Midwifery
LUZ Reproductive Justice Think Tank
American College of Nurse Midwives
SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective
Angelita Nixon, CNM
A major new report takes stock of the U.S. maternity care system and finds great opportunities for improvement. Click here to access this important resource for those participating in the writing contests and for anyone interested in improving the health and well-being of pregnant women.
We hope that you will support this timely and catalytic effort to advance legal scholarship on birthing rights as a matter of gender equality and reproductive justice. You can help by:
1) Making a contribution to NAPW;
2) Allowing us to list you as a Supporter
Contributions can be made to National Advocates for Pregnant Women. Checks may be made out to National Advocates for Pregnant Women with “Contest” marked in the memo section and mailed to NAPW headquarters at:
National Advocates for Pregnant Women
15 West 36th Street, Suite 901
New York, New York, 10018
Contributions can also be made on-line from our home page.
Download The Writing Contest Contribution Form:
BE A CO-SPONSOR:
WRITING CONTESTS TO ADVANCE LEGAL SCHOLARSHIP ON BIRTHING RIGHTS AS A MATTER OF GENDER EQUALITY
NAPW is seeking your support to help implement two writing competitions relating to birthing
rights as a matter of gender equality and reproductive justice.
NAPW knows that legal scholarship can be effective in bringing about social change. For exam-
ple, the feminist legal community helped to bring issues such as sexual harassment into the lexicon of gender equality.