The Pittsburgh office of the Women’s Law Project, the only public interest legal organization devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls, opened in 2002 in order to directly serve and support the women and girls of Western Pennsylvania.
The annual spring Rights to Realities event in Pittsburgh is always a great party with a festive spirit that defies the deeply serious business of the organization’s work, and this year was no exception.
This year’s party was themed Voices for Justice, and honored Pittsburgh’s own Cathy Raphael, an advocate, writer and artist whose inspirational vision, humor and kindness have buoyed countless women’s rights and progressive causes. It is not an exaggeration to say that without Raphael’s vision and generosity, we would not have been able to do the work necessary to keep abortion providers of Pennsylvania open in the face of ongoing legislative attempts to force them to close.
Former state representative Erin Molchany returned as guest auctioneer for our live action portion of the evening. Women’s Law Project board member Ellen Doyle and WLP’s Tara Murtha presented the winner of the 2016 “Say What” contest. After tallying online votes and ballots cast at the party, we announced that the clear winner of this dubious distinction of most ridiculous, offensive thing said about women in the last year is Phyllis Schlafly, a lawyer, author and editor who has dedicated her career to fighting feminist progress.
As noted in our announcement, the Women’s Law Project will send Schlafly an official certificate, letting her know she has joined the ranks of previous winner Susan Patton (also known as the “Princeton mom”) and Mike Huckabee.
The Women’s Law Project is a non-profit organization; we provide legal services at no cost to our clients. Our work includes extensive enforcement of Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs and activities; representation of sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors; the development of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health to promote stronger legal protections for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and employees of small businesses; and the creative application of laws prohibiting sex discrimination to advance LGBT rights.
Our legal representation of abortion providers in Pennsylvania mostly takes place behind-the-scenes, but we are a critical component of protecting and promoting reproductive rights and freedom for women and girls in Pennsylvania.
The current attacks on women’s reproductive rights, the state-level “incremental strategy,” is expensive by design.
To wit, an abortion ban recently introduced in Pennsylvania is the kind experts are calling the “most dangerous,” and part of “the national movement to intimidate and harass physicians.” It contains a method ban provision that is currently being blocked in at least two states because in addition to being morally repugnant, it is likely unconstitutional. But that doesn’t stop Pennsylvania lawmakers from trying to pass it into law, because challenging these laws takes time, effort, expertise and money.
So if you attended our party to support our work, we thank you, on behalf of the women and girls of Pennsylvania. If you did not attend, please consider supporting out work through a one-time or reoccurring donation.
The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.
Text: Tara Murtha
Photos: Mark Simpson