2017 Morrison & Foerster Pro Bono Report

A FAMILY HISTORY OF FIGHTING INJUSTICE Alex regularly devotes hundreds of hours each year to protecting reproductive rights, but this case, in particular, spoke to him. He vividly recalls watching his late grandmother, Selma Cash Paty, a Tennessee lawyer, defend the Chattanooga Women’s Clinic abortion center before its 1993 closure. “When I was a boy, she was representing the local clinic and protecting women from harassment by protestors,” says Alex. “I remember one protestor, in particular, who carried horrible signs. I was very proud of my grandmother. She was my mentor — the reason I became a lawyer.” Alex’s grandmother practiced law until two days before her death, passing away just a month before her grandson helped secure the historic Supreme Court ruling protecting women’s health. DECISION STRENGTHENED CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS FOR ABORTION RIGHTS The Court’s decision has empowered women to fight back against deceptive anti-choice laws in Texas and beyond. Alex believes it will have a national impact on similar laws in many other states that threaten to shutter abortion clinics with medically unnecessary red tape. In deciding for the plaintiffs, the Supreme Court affirmed that such restrictions must be grounded in a credible medical need. “The state’s experts could show no proof of a medical rationale. Abortion procedures are not surgery. They are very safe. They don’t need to be performed in ‘mini-hospitals’ costing millions of dollars,” explains Alex. The decision will not stop states from continuing to pass restrictive abortion laws, Alex admits. But with the Supreme Court ruling, advocates for reproductive rights “now have a legal tool to get those laws declared unconstitutional,” he affirms. “There’s a standard now.” The case is also relevant to voting rights laws, he maintains. “This case is a landmark ruling that affirms the need to present evidence that proves a problem exists. The Court is telling those who seek to curtail rights: ‘Show me.’ You can’t just make stuff up.” I WAS VERY PROUD OF MY GRANDMOTHER. SHE WAS MY MENTOR — THE REASON I BECAME A LAWYER. ALEX LAWRENCE 14 | Morrison & Foerster Pro Bono Report