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Guardian of Reproductive Rights Appears at Law School

February 23, 2011

Kathryn Kolbert, the attorney who successfully argued Planned Parenthood v. Casey before the the U.S. Supreme Court, visited the law school on Feb. 21 to discuss the landmark case.

Kolbert represented five abortion clinics in the case, which in 1992 led to one of the nation’s most important reproductive rights rulings. The court struck down a Pennsylvania law that required women to obtain spousal consent for abortions while permitting states to enact restrictions that do not place an "undue burden" on women.

The discussion, sponsored by the Drexel Women's Studies ProgramDrexel Law Students for Reproductive Justice and the Drexel American Constitution Society, focused on the controversial strategy Kolbert pursued.

"We argued the case on the theory that it was important for the court to determine if Roe was still the law," Kolbert said, adding that her approach shone a light on the stakes for victims of domestic violence and other vulnerable women.

Anticipating an unfavorable ruling, Kolbert said her legal team worked mightily to get the matter before the court and into the public consciousness in time for the 1992 presidential election.

Kolbert said a current push in Congress to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood would restrict access to family planning services at other venues.
Currently the director of Barnard College's Athena Center for Leadership Studies, Kolbert was named one of the "100 Most Influential Lawyers" by The National Law Journal. Previously, she was president and CEO of People for the American Way and People for the American Way Foundation.