Abortion rights advocate Nancy Northup
Photo: Lauren Tamaki
Nancy Northup is the President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy organization that works to protect and extend reproductive rights around the world. Since taking charge in 2003, the Center has argued two cases on abortion rights before the Supreme Court. In 2016 he won Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, where the court ruled that a Texas law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges to a local hospital was unconstitutional. In March, the Center will appear before the Supreme Court to argue against an almost identical Louisiana law. Under Northup’s leadership, the Center increased its annual operating budget from $ 6 million to nearly $ 40 million and expanded litigation outside the United States, including the first abortion case heard by the Committee. United Nations Human Rights Law. A few weeks ago, Northup testified before Congress in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would guarantee the right of health care providers to perform abortions and the right of their patients to have them. Northup lives in Manhattan with her husband. Here, how she does it.
A typical morning:
I am do not A morning person. If I had my druthers I would stay up until one in the morning and get up later, but there are things I want to do before I go to the office. I try to train five days a week. If I do cardio I watch the news, and if I weight I like to listen The Daily. My husband and I touch the base as we get ready. I live for my morning coffee. Put that milk in the microwave, froth it, and I just wanna, Wow my whole day is gonna be fantastic. The office is a ten minute walk away and I often listen to songs from my favorite musicals, like Hamilton or Oklahoma!
On his unpredictable schedule:
There is no typical day at the office. We have 31 active cases in 17 states so I’m still trying to manage my inbox and feel like it’s not going very well. I’m on the road a lot, but if I’m in New York it’s usually a mix of getting in touch with board members about what we’re trying to push forward, talking to coalition partners and try to save time. editing or writing. I make sure we can engage others who care deeply about these issues and that the public understands the issues in our cases. I will read the briefs of our lawyers or oversee the litigation strategy.
When speaking in public:
As a child, I was called “terribly shy”. Speaking in public was neither natural nor easy for me, but I chose a career path that involved a lot. I always walk into the Federal Courthouse in Manhattan, and I’m a little nauseous from all those years of being incredibly nervous before doing a closing jury or closing argument. One thing that has helped me is trying to switch from worrying about what people think about me and my speech to focusing on what I mean. I also use a trick that I learned about 15 years ago. If you walk into something you might be dreading with the “There’s nowhere else I would rather be” attitude, it helps.
Going to the Supreme Court:
I’m not making the argument myself, but it’s still very intense to be there. It’s kind of a tea leaf process of trying to figure out how judges are going to rule based on the questions they ask. The case concerns a Louisiana law that requires doctors to have admitting privileges to a local hospital to perform abortions; almost all clinics [in the state] would stop if that came into effect. We won on this issue four years ago in the Supreme Court, and that victory is at stake. So I will be in this courtroom to listen very, very carefully to the questions that will be asked.
By remaining anchored in the work:
Last summer I went to Shreveport, Louisiana, to visit our client who is at the center of the Supreme Court case and meet with clinic staff, physicians and patients. Last year, we filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva on behalf of women who were 13 and 14 when they were sexually assaulted, became pregnant and saw each other. refuse abortion care in their country. Being able to spend time with them reinforced the importance of our work. What I have learned over the years is that when you take a leadership role, you have to try to get your hands on the issues at the highest level, but also take time for the intimate connection with the work. . This keeps you grounded and focused.
On his faith:
I have been a long-standing Unitarian universalist. My faith helps me to stand back; it’s my touchstone. When politics are so divisive and it seems like there are no standards of behavior, it really helps for me to come back to my religious faith and to know who I want to be in the world no matter what. happens.
If I had a solution to the jet lag, that would be great. I travel with an eye mask and try to sleep on long flights rather than being distracted by work or TV. My training equipment and my eye mask are my two constant companions on the road.
By taking the time to explore your areas of interest:
I always urge young adults, if they can, to spend their early years after college exploring their passions. I worked in a law firm as a legal assistant, in electoral politics and in defense of women’s rights. I traveled for several months in sub-Saharan Africa. I studied theater. When I went to law school, I made it very clear that I wanted to use my legal career in the public interest.
Spending time with your adult children:
My husband and I are fortunate to have three of our four children in New York City, as well as a few nieces and nephews. We try to get them for Sunday evening supper, if travel permits. Different family members are in different places to see if they like to be in a group text. I also keep an eye on my millennial family members on Instagram.
Remembering to laugh:
My husband and I are both passionate about our work, justice and social change. We know we have to give ourselves a lot of space to pursue these things, but we also try to include each other as much as we can and stay connected. One of the most important ways to stay sane is to make sure we are laughing. Even on the days that are really, really difficult, we try to find a way to break each other down.