Nancy Northup ’88

Into the Fray

Winter 2012

Nancy Northup ’88, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, cuts directly to the heart of the matter when it comes to what drives her work. “What we work toward is a day when women’s reproductive rights are viewed as fundamental human rights and not an issue of politics,” she says.

While Northup is able to express the center’s mission succinctly, her daily efforts tend to be extremely challenging and often attract national media attention. For instance, since 2004, the Center for Reproductive Rights has represented Mississippi’s only reproductive rights clinic in its fight to overturn a state law that would impose restrictions on its services. If the law remains in effect, the clinic will not be able to continue operating, and Mississippi will be the only state in the U.S. without such a facility.

Northup and her team scored a victory in 2012, when a district judge issued a partial preliminary injunction that allowed the clinic to remain open while litigation moved forward on the constitutionality of the state statute.

During her nearly 10 years with the center, she has overseen the opening of offices in Colombia, Kenya, and Nepal. “We’ve been deepening and strengthening the international work that we do,” says Northup, who recently visited the center’s new office in Nepal. “I make it a point not to just engage with legal colleagues but to also visit local clinics.”

In addition, Northup has focused on building the center’s pro bono network during her tenure. She notes that the estimated value of pro bono support to the center annually from domestic and foreign law firms has increased from $79,000 to $4.6 million during that span.