Center for Reproductive Rights Mourns the Loss of Founder and President Emerita Janet Benshoof

NEW YORK, NY – Janet Benshoof, founder and president emerita of the Center for Reproductive Rights, died December 18th. 

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Janet Benshoof,” said Nancy Northup, CEO and President of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Janet was a trailblazer who secured landmark legal precedents on reproductive rights in the U.S. and advocated tirelessly to ensure that 'women’s rights are human rights' is not just a rallying cry, but cemented into legal guarantees enforced around the world. Janet improved the lives of millions of women through her brilliant legal strategies.  The organizations that she founded will carry her work forward in her honor and memory. Her absence will be deeply felt by all of us who work in the international human rights movement.”

Benshoof founded the Center for Reproductive Rights in 1992 as the first international human rights organization specializing in reproductive rights.  Under Benshoof’s leadership for 10 years, the Center shaped the course of reproductive rights law in the United States and strengthened reproductive health laws and policies across the globe.

Prior to founding the Center for Reproductive Rights, Benshoof was the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project for 15 years, where she led U.S. litigation focused on shaping Supreme Court jurisprudence on gender equality, first amendment issues and reproductive rights.

Most recently, Benshoof was the founder and president of the Global Justice Center whose mission is to develop legal strategies to define, establish, and protect human rights and gender equity.

During her career, Benshoof was recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” and was the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award” for her legal work, among other numerous awards.  Her work was also published in the Harvard Law Review, The Journal of the American Medical Association, New York University Journal of International Law and Policy, and Law Ka Pala, a Journal of The Burma Lawyers’ Council.  Benshoof was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and served on its Burma Task Force.

Benshoof earned her B.A. from the University of Minnesota and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.  She is survived by her husband Alfred Meyer and sons David and Eli Klein.