Dear Dean Dennis and the Law School Board,
We are writing to inform you of serious ethical problems with two pro bono projects that the law school currently promotes, and to demand reform of the pro bono program.
The Judicial Bypass Intake Project (JBIP), run by Law Students for Reproductive Justice, helps minors obtain abortions without parental notification. To the best of our knowledge, there are no safeguards in place to ensure that JBIP clients can receive prompt emergency care in the event of a complication. This is a particularly disturbing oversight in light of the fact that the Planned Parenthood clinic on Locust Street—located less than ten minutes from the law school—failed a 2010 health inspection because it did not provide adequate follow-up care for its abortion patients.
The Abortion Clinic Escort Service (ACES), also run by Law Students for Reproductive Justice, encourages students to act as abortion clinic escorts. Until recently, the pro bono website described students’ responsibilities in ACES as follows: “Should a protester violate the First Amendment, the student escort will take a full report of the incident and file his or her notes of the incident with the Court.” Abortion protesters are not state actors, and therefore it is legally impossible for them to violate the First Amendment. This baseless legal threat can only serve to intimidate protesters who wish to dissuade women from having an abortion.
Karen Pearlman Raab, the Director for Pro Bono and Public Service Programs, was informed of these issues via email on Friday, March 16. We have received no communication from her. It seems that the law school has taken no steps whatsoever to ensure that ACES will not function to intimidate protesters who are peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights. Nor has the law school taken any apparent action to ensure that the JBIP does not put minors’ health at risk by facilitating abortions at the Locust Street Planned Parenthood. The law school’s sole response to our concerns has been to reword the description of ACES on its website.
This meager response falls far short of meaningful reform. We respectfully request that you step in and remove both JBIP and ACES from the list of school-sanctioned pro bono opportunities. Members of Law Students for Reproductive Justice can promote abortion on their own time if they so desire, but Drexel has no business promoting this unethical conduct.