University News

Western New England University Hosts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell’s Reproductive Justice Unit Convening

Published: June 19, 2024 | Categories: Law, All News
WNE's Judge Dina Fein, sits with Attorney General Andrea Campbell, and Loretta Ross in the Western New England University School of Law.

Judge Dina E. Fein of Western New England University School of Law, Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell, and nationally renowned reproductive justice activist Professor Loretta Ross, pose for a photo during a reproductive justice convening at Western New England University School of Law in Springfield, hosted by AG Campbell. The event brought together over 120 experts to discuss and strategize on reproductive justice and related legal and health care issues.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the creation of reproductive justice theory, Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell and her office's newly established Reproductive Justice Unit (RJU) convened a diverse assembly of reproductive justice community organizations, health care providers, legal advocates, and academics at Western New England University's School of Law on Tuesday, June 18.

The establishment of the RJU responds to the significant legal challenges to reproductive health access following the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, which overturned the federal right to an abortion. In the wake of this 2022 ruling, nearly half of the U.S. states have imposed severe restrictions or outright bans on abortion access. Concurrently, efforts to ban gender-affirming care and criminalize those providing or seeking it have intensified, exacerbating the maternal health crisis and increasing suicidality rates among transgender youth.

AG Campbell and the RJU began the convening with opening remarks, highlighting the importance of bridging the efforts of the Attorney General's Office with the needs of historically underserved communities in the region.

"Access to reproductive care, including gender-affirming care, is being threatened nationwide, risking the wellbeing of communities in need, including communities in western Massachusetts, which have historically been underserved in this space," said Judge Dina E. Fein of Western New England University School of Law. "We are honored to host AG Campbell and her team, along with numerous legal and reproductive care experts, for a much needed and timely convening on protecting and advancing reproductive justice for all."

The convening facilitated discussions between the AG's Office and legal and reproductive care experts to inform how the Office can better champion reproductive justice for all on a local, state, and national level particularly in the face of national efforts to roll back these rights.

"As bodily autonomy is under relentless attack nationwide, Massachusetts is doubling down on its efforts to champion, defend and expand access to sexual and reproductive health care," said AG Campbell. "In my office, we are doing this work with a hands-on and expert-led approach and I'm grateful to those who joined us today to help inform our efforts. And to help ensure that people in Massachusetts know their rights in the confusing and evolving post-Dobbs world, I am glad to release new resources to help people navigate common issues associated with reproductive care."

The convening concluded with a fireside chat featuring AG Campbell and Loretta Ross, a pioneering activist and co-founder of the national reproductive justice movement. AG Campbell and Loretta Ross discussed the history of the reproductive justice movement, examined the state of reproductive care access and government's role in sustaining long-term systemic change while also celebrating the progress in this space over recent years. Ross's insights and experiences provided a profound end to a day focused on advancing reproductive justice.

"True reproductive justice is all-encompassing and accounts for liberties such as the right to have or not have a child, along with the opportunity to raise children in environments where they can thrive," said Professor Loretta Ross, Reproductive Justice Movement Co-Founder and Activist. "Attorney General Campbell is one of few leaders nationwide to use a truly comprehensive and expert-based approach to championing reproductive justice, and it is my deep honor to support her in this work."

AG Campbell's Reproductive Justice Unit, under the leadership of Director Sapna Khatri, is focused on expanding and protecting access to reproductive and gender affirming care, addressing disparities in maternal health, tackling misinformation and disinformation that prevents access to care, working across state lines to respond to national attacks on reproductive health care, and championing and defending Massachusetts strong legal protections for reproductive rights.