Please Support Civil Liberties and Public Policy During the Covid-19 Crisis: An Appeal from Judy Norsigian

group shot of young reproductive justice advocates
By Judy Norsigian |

These challenging times require fierce, broad, and intersectional activism – which is just what Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) has been doing for the past four decades. This now-independent nonprofit, which used to be affiliated with Hampshire College, continues its unique movement-building work preparing younger activists to work on the front lines of today’s struggle for reproductive justice. Please consider supporting CLPP today with a generous donation. 

As we know, the Covid-19 pandemic is disproportionately harming those in our communities who were already facing the greatest barriers to reproductive justice — people of color, immigrants, people with low incomes, queer and trans folk, people with disabilities, and those who are incarcerated.  From loss of income to food insecurity and rising reports of domestic violence, the crisis will have a deep and long-lasting impact on these individuals.

Reproductive and preventive health care has become even more inaccessible for too many, and opportunistic politicians are using the crisis to push emergency orders that scapegoat immigrants, limit voting rights, and effectively ban abortion.

The framework of reproductive justice provides an ideal approach to underscoring the intersectionality and interconnectedness of these issues. When we emerge from this crisis, we will need activists and leaders who will protect basic civil and human rights, advance an agenda insisting on systemic change, and ensure that all families can live in safe and healthy environments.

What does CLPP do now?

CLPP has a three-pronged approach that provides leadership development for young activists, supports grassroots frontline reproductive justice organizations, and builds the overarching movement for reproductive justice. Its free programs — summer internships, an annual activist conference, and a leadership networking group — prioritize people who have experienced barriers to reproductive justice in their own lives. Each year CLPP launches 1,000 new activists who will become tomorrow’s leaders.

Right now, while in-person programming is suspended, CLPP has been working virtually as follows: 

Campus and Academic Programs:  CLPP has maintained a connected, virtual community of undergraduate students within the Five Colleges where it has been based for almost four decades, with classes, check-ins, blog posts, discussions, and student presentations over Zoom. While students are struggling with so many new challenges during the pandemic, CLPP has created new resources for students to support their learning and commitment to their education, and to each other.

Annual Activist Conference — From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom:  For the first time in 34 years, the annual CLPP conference was cancelled at the beginning of March. CLPP has been creating alternative programming through webinars and podcasts, and has launched an exciting new collaboration with Atlanta-based SPARK Reproductive Justice Now! to shift some of the planned conference sessions to SPARK’s JusticeNow2020 conference this fall.

Summer Internships (the Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps): This spring, CLPP awarded RRASC summer grants to a new cohort of undergraduates, to support their work in paid 10-week internships at organizations across the country, with an emphasis on southern and predominately red states.  CLPP is now working closely with both host organizations and interns to create internships that can be done remotely.

NLNI: New Leadership Networking Initiative:  This program for emerging movement leaders met in Puerto Rico in January for a winter retreat, where participants helped assess the program’s impact and explore ways it can shift to meet continuing movement needs.

Building a vision, strengthening national support

CLPP is at an exciting juncture:  Now fiscally sponsored by Boston-based TSNE MissionWorks, CLPP has new opportunities to strengthen their national work. They are collecting and analyzing data about the reproductive justice field, funding, and its own long-term impact. They are also researching alternative models of academic-activist programs.

With the pandemic pausing in-person programming, CLPP is piloting collaborations and initiatives that will build relationships with new partners and develop new capacity. Please join us in helping CLPP to build the next generation of reproductive justice leaders. You can make a donation here.

In the urgency of the present crisis, we are thinking of you, our broader community of women’s health activists and supporters. We hope you and your families are healthy, safe, and finding ways to take care of yourself in these uncertain and challenging times.

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