Reproductive Rights are Human Rights

Brown Honors Nancy Northup

Brown University has awarded an honorary doctorate to Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in recognition of her leadership in the fight to promote and protect reproductive rights in the U.S. and around the world.

Nancy accepted the degree on Saturday as part of the Rhode Island institution’s 250th commencement ceremony, alongside a diverse cohort of scholars, community leaders, activists and artists.

The honor comes as the Center for Reproductive Rights prepares to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Nancy’s tenure as President and CEO. Under Nancy’s leadership, the Center for Reproductive Rights has become an international leader in using the power of law to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights.

The urgency of this work was underscored by the prior day’s historic referendum in Ireland, in which the country’s constitutional ban on legal abortion ended following a landslide vote by the Irish people.

Over the last 15 years Nancy has developed and overseen a global strategy that combines game-changing litigation, advocacy, and the innovative use of constitutional, international and comparative human rights law to transform how reproductive rights are understood by courts, governments and human rights bodies.

Working on five continents, the Center has secured legal victories worldwide on access to life-saving obstetrics care, contraception and safe abortion services, as well as the prevention of forced sterilization and child marriage.

Nancy has devoted her legal career to the public interest. She was the founding director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, where she litigated voting rights, campaign finance reform and ballot access cases. From 1989 to 1996, she served as a prosecutor and deputy chief of appeals in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Northup graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 1981, where she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. She earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a Kent Scholar and managing editor of the Columbia Law Review.

Photo courtesy of Brown University.