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Payal Shah joined the Center in 2008 as a Legal Fellow before becoming a Legal Adviser for Asia in 2010. Her work at the Center includes litigation and advocacy in India, Nepal, and the Philippines around issues of abortion, maternal mortality and morbidity, and access to contraception information and services. She plays a leading role in the South Asia Reproductive Justice and Accountability Initiative that aims to develop further litigation and build legal capacity throughout the region. She co-authored Forsaken Lives: The Harmful Impact of the Philippine Criminal Abortion Ban and was a key contributor to Maternal Mortality in India: Using Constitutional and International Law to Promote Accountability and Reform before co-authoring its update in 2011.
Payal has presented on the use of international and comparative law in reproductive rights advocacy throughout Asia. She has published on the role of human rights in advocating for government accountability for egregiously high rates of uterine prolapse in Nepal in the Drexel Law Review.
Before joining the Center, she was a Litigation Associate at the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, where she worked pro bono with the Center in litigating Carey v. Maricopa County, et al., updating Bringing Rights to Bear, and documenting violations of reproductive rights during conflict in Nepal. Payal also assisted with impact litigation on China's violations of the rights to health and education as well as coerced sterilization and HIV/AIDS issues in India.
She received her J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law, where she was a James Kent and Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and was awarded a Certificate in Comparative and International Law. She was co-editor-in-chief of the Columbia Journal of Asian Law, and has published on international women's rights in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. She received a B.A. with High Honors from Swarthmore College with a dual major in Political Science and Asian Studies as well as a minor in Chinese Language and Literature.