Introduction: banishing women: the law and politics of abortion travel.

AuthorKelly, Lisa

In her Introduction to the inaugural issue of the Columbia Journal of and Law (JGL), Ruth Bader Ginsburg traced the gendered history of Columbia Law School from 1928, when the first female student was admitted, to 1990, when women composed nearly half the student body. Reflecting on this change, she asked, "Does women's participation affect the way law business is conducted, and the shape and direction of legal development?" In pursuing this "large question," Justice Ginsburg contemplated a feminist movement that would offer "a spacious home" for "all who have the imagination and determination to work for the full realization of human potential." (1)

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of JGL, we are delighted to introduce a set of essays that grapple with these enduring questions of feminism and citizenship in the context of reproductive rights and justice. These essays are based on talks delivered at a recent panel entitled, "Banishing Women: The Law and Politics of Abortion Travel," cosponsored by Columbia Law School and the Center for Reproductive Rights. We would like to thank each speaker for their contribution to the panel, including David Brown, Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights; Joanna Erdman, Assistant Professor of Law, and MacBain Chair in Health Law and Policy at Dalhousie University; Yasmine Ergas, Lecturer in the Discipline of International and Public Affairs at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs; and Madeline Gomez, Reproductive Justice Fellow at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. A special thank you to Carol Sanger, the Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, for moderating the event and encouraging this work.

In convening this panel, we aimed to promote greater thinking and discussion about abortion travel among scholars and advocates. We use the term "abortion travel" rather than "abortion (or medical) tourism" to avoid the consumerist and individualist connotations of the latter term. We are interested instead in the structural forces--both legal and social--that compel many women to leave their home jurisdictions to access abortion. (2) We describe this phenomenon as a form of "banishment" to signal the punitive and stigmatizing effects of laws that force women to travel to terminate a pregnancy safely. When anti-abortion advocates work to make a county, province, state, or nation "abortion-free," they register abortion as a politically...

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