Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice


KL MM JAWelcome to the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice (CRRJ), a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to issues of reproduction and designed to support policy solutions by connecting people and ideas across the academic-advocate divide. If you would like to support our efforts as an investor or volunteer, please email us at  If you would like to stay informed about our progress and pursuits, sign up for our newsletter here.


New RJVL Collection on Abortion Funding Bans
On the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, CRRJ is pleased to announce the launch of a new collection in the Reproductive Justice Virtual Library dedicated to bans on public insurance coverage of abortion.  The collection includes 25 annotated articles of downloadable legal and social science scholarship, as well as fact sheets and toolkits created by advocacy organizations. With an emphasis on the Hyde Amendment and Harris v. McRae, this modest starter collection will continue to grow, and we welcome suggested additions. We hope it will be useful to activists, scholars, journalists, and the general public – anyone who wants to better understand the legislative and legal history of the Hyde Amendment, as well as its impacts on Medicaid beneficiaries and other marginalized groups.

Center Releases New Brief on Anniversary of Welfare Reform

CRRJ released its latest non-partisan policy analysis, “Bringing Families out of ‘Cap’tivity: the Path Toward Abolishing Welfare Family Caps” on the 20th anniversary of so-called “welfare reform.” On that day, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which ushered in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and with it the invitation for states to maintain or enact Welfare Family Cap policies without federal oversight. Welfare Family Caps deny additional cash aid for babies born into families already receiving cash assistance. Our brief describes Welfare Family Caps’ origins and:

  • outlines their pejorative purposes and punitive effects;
  • highlights how they deepen poverty and hurt children;
  • explains how they ultimately cost the State money and harm the economy;
  • chronicles legal challenges and repeal efforts in 11 states; and
  • discusses the need to abolish these racist, sexist, classist policies nationwide.


Landmark Feticide Conviction Overturned in Indiana


Last year, the state of Indiana sentenced Purvi Patel to 20 years in prison for self-administering abortion pills to end her own pregnancy.  CRRJ co-authored an appellate amicus brief, arguing, on behalf of 30 reproductive justice organizations, that no one should be prosecuted for ending a pregnancy or for pregnancy loss. In July 2016, the Indiana Court of Appeals vacated the feticide conviction and remanded her case to the trial court for resentencing under a lower felony neglect charge. The court correctly applied settled legal principles to recognize it was neither the intent of the state legislature nor the precedent of the court to apply the feticide statute to a pregnant person who self-induced an abortion.

“The SIA Legal Team is pleased the court recognized that feticide laws are intended to protect, not prosecute, pregnant women,” Jill E. Adams is quoted as saying in Mother Jones. “Women don’t need to be stigmatized and sentenced; instead, they need safe, affordable access to provider-directed and self-directed health care.” 

As Adams told the Associated Press, prosecutions like Ms. Patel’s are a misuse of the criminal justice system, undermining public health and disproportionately targeting communities of color, immigrants, and people living in poverty.

CRRJ Director Weighs in on SCOTUS Ruling

Jill E. Adams joined other faculty experts to assess the reasoning and implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s final major rulings of the term.  Read more here.

Victory at the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court took an important stand against clinic shutdown laws that cut off abortion access. The 5:3 majority in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt struck down the ambulatory surgical center and admitting privileges requirements of the omnibus anti-abortion bill in Texas known as HB2. The Court’s decision will allow the remaining clinics to stay open, serving the state’s 5.4 million women of reproductive age.  However, an untold number of people in Texas, and indeed around the country, who still won’t be able to travel the long distance to the nearest clinic or pay out-of-pocket for the procedure. CRRJ Directors made a variety of contributions to the collection of 45 amicus briefs submitted on behalf of petitioners in the case. Read more here.

End of California’s Welfare Family Cap

California repealed its welfare family cap after four years of tireless advocacy by Senator Holly Mitchell with support from a broad-based coalition of organizations and families impacted by this policy.  As part of the coalition, CRRJ has been working since its inception to educate elected officials and the public about the problematic nature and harmful effects of these policies.  To learn more about the MFG Rule of CalWORKS or welfare family caps generally, read CRRJ’s issue brief or watch video testimony from a hearing on SB 23 (Mitchell), beginning at minute 16. 

CRRJ Now on Podcast

Jill E. Adams and Melissa Mikesell were featured on podcast, Gone with the Wind – Reproductive Rights on Retreat. The podcast can be found here or on iTunes.

Plotting the Legal Landscape of Self-Induced Abortion

CRRJ convenes the Self-Induced Abortion (SIA) Legal Team, a consortium of organizations using law and policy tools to ensure people throughout the U.S. can end their own pregnancies outside of the formal health system with dignity and safe from the threat of arrest for themselves or anyone who assists them. The SIA Legal Team employs various tactics to improve information relay, support community-based distribution, shift culture, and halt the criminalization of self-induced abortion. Learn more about this timely issue.


Reproductive Justice Working Group – Fall 2016

CRRJ’s Working Group is a facilitated bi-weekly interdisciplinary meeting of students, researchers, faculty, and community members deepen their understanding of reproductive justice and develop practical ideas for integrating it into their research and practice.  Details for the fall session will be announced August.  For more information, please email