ICYMI: February at the Women’s Law Project

Hundreds of advocates from Pennsylvania rallied at the Supreme Court on March 2.

Hundreds of advocates from Pennsylvania rallied at the Supreme Court on March 2.

We’re a little behind in getting out our February recap reel to you because we were down in Washington, DC rallying for abortion access with thousands—yes, thousands—of likeminded advocates. We rallied on the steps of the Supreme Court while inside, oral arguments took place in the landmark abortion-access case Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt.

As it turns out, we were, in a sense, inside the courthouse, too. It was quite clear from the transcripts that at least several of the justices read the friend-of-the-court brief the Women’s Law Project filed to the Supreme Court on behalf of 10 abortion providers in Pennsylvania.

View video of the entire rally here, and read the transcript of the oral arguments.


5 Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage

At $7.25 an hour, Pennsylvania has the lowest minimum wage permitted by federal law. Just yesterday, Governor Wolf signed an executive order giving some state employees and contractors a raise to $10.15 an hour, and called on the state Legislature to do the same for workers across the state.

In early February, we wrote five reasons we should raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania.

“It Wasn’t Always Like This”

Executive Director Carol Tracy was featured in an insightful article by Anna Orso at BillyPenn.com. Orso highlighted Carol’s work improving police response to rape in Philadelphia and across the country, and explored how far we’ve come, and how far we need to go, to ensure justice for survivors of sexual assault:

Now, Philadelphia is a model city for how to investigate cases of rape and sexual violence, and each year the Special Victims Unit opens up its case files to be audited by victims’ advocates, a level of access seen in few other cities.

“We see the bigger picture,” said Capt. John Darby, the head of the Special Victims Unit who is set to retire in several months. “And we come from two different, almost two opposite, sides of society. But we’ve been brought together, and we see the very positive outcomes to law enforcement and other agencies working together.”

It wasn’t always like this.

Read the rest of the piece here.

The “Cosby Effect”

In many ways, the Bill Cosby rape case is a real-time example in how police—and culture at large—are changing when it comes to responding to allegations of rape. Journalist Danielle Paquette of the Washington Post spoke to Carol Tracy about the phenomenon New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton has dubbed “the Cosby effect.”

The “Cosby effect” refers to the recent trend: more and more survivors of sexual assault are reporting assaults that took place more than a year ago.

From the piece:

Last year, the District of Columbia saw an 11 percent increase in reported sexual assaults. The number of delayed reports — attacks that happened prior to the year in which they were reported — jumped from 20 to 28.

Philadelphia saw a 9 percent increase, with delayed reports rising from 110 to 121. Houston’s reported sexual assaults jumped 19 percent, with delayed reports climbing from 76 to 125.

“These are the kinds of cases that, if you tried to take one to many jurisdictions years ago, they just wouldn’t take it,” Tracy said. “They just wouldn’t count it in their numbers.”

Carol’s remarks were also reported in New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune, Cosmopolitan magazine (which, by the way, just published a package of incredibly well-reported articles on abortion that you should stop and read as soon as you can) and Jezebel.com.

Dispelling Myths about Title IX

WLP Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson is a national expert on Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Fromson was recently a guest speaker at “Gender Equity in Sports: Analysis of Title IX and Effective Compliance Strategies,” a panel hosted by Villanova University School of Law. The panelists explored the growing problem of, shall we say, “creative” roster management—deceptive practices some schools use to feign compliance with Title IX.

Fromson’s remarks were featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

WLP Managing Attorney Terry Fromson spoke out about "ghost athletes."

WLP Managing Attorney Terry Fromson spoke out about “ghost athletes.”

By this, Fromson meant having rosters for certain women’s sports expand beyond the needs of those sports to compete simply to comply with Title IX. Fromson called the practice “a way of adding athletes to a squad list instead of adding new sports.”

In its benign state, Fromson pointed out, roster management is adding walk-ons and additional team members to help a team.

“What we’re talking about is abuse of roster management,” Fromson said, mentioning how some schools are requiring minimum roster limits, “requiring coaches to fill those spots,” while at the same time capping limits on men’s teams.

The problem? Fromson talked about athletes not getting the same opportunity to compete, “not getting as much coaching. They may not get real uniforms.”

But they count. Fromson talked of “ghost athletes” who may have signed up but never showed up and are counted on the roster for Title IX purposes.

A reader wrote a letter to the editor in response to the article, arguing that Title IX is unfair to men. Fromson swiftly corrected him.


Keystone Progress Summit

On February 19, we headed to Harrisburg where Senior Attorney Sue Frietsche and Associate Director of Strategic Communications Tara Murtha teamed up with Curtiss Hannum of the Philadelphia Women’s Centers and presented a panel on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, and the landscape of abortion access in Pennsylvania.

We were talking with self-identified progressives, and are main point was this:


 A ruling is expected in June. Stay tuned.


In Memorial: Deborah Pollack Maliver

In Memory of Deborah Pollack Maliver: We will miss her kindness, humor, and indomitable spirit.

Deborah Pollack Maliver

It is with heavy hearts that we had to report the loss of a staunch ally and good friend. The Women’s Law Project mourns the untimely loss of Deborah Pollack Maliver, a Pittsburgh lawyer who was a strong feminist and steadfast supporter of the Women’s Law Project.

We extend our deepest sympathy to her family, friends, and coworkers. We will miss her kindness, humor, and indomitable spirit.



About womenslawproject

The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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