Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup Receives Brown University 2018 Honorary Degree

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Northup selected for Distinguished Doctorate of Humane Letters for advancing reproductive rights globally
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(PRESS RELEASE) — Today, Brown University awarded Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, an honorary doctorate for her leadership promoting reproductive rights as fundamental human rights around the world. Northup, who graduated from Brown in 1981, joins a diverse group of scholars, community leaders, activists and artists honored by the Providence, Rhode Island institution at its 250thCommencement ceremony. Northup’s recognition comes one day after Ireland’s historic referendum ended that country’s restrictive ban on abortion.

Said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“I am deeply grateful to Brown University for awarding me this honorary degree. It is recognition not just of me, but of the groundbreaking work of the Center for Reproductive Rights in transforming the understanding that “reproductive rights are human rights” into legal obligations that governments around the world must protect, respect, and fulfill. 

“It is particularly heartening to receive this honor the day after the historic landslide vote by the Irish people to repeal their country’s constitutional ban on legal abortion.  

“Around the world, women are striving to have our voices heard and our experiences understood and respected. This honorary degree today validates those struggles and supports all of us who work towards a world in which every person can participate as an equal member of society, regardless of gender.”

Over the 15 years of Northup’s leadership, the Center for Reproductive Rights has used the power of law to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights. Through its work on five continents, the Center for Reproductive Rights has secured legal victories worldwide on access to life-saving obstetrics care, contraception and safe abortion services, as well as the prevention of forced sterilization and child marriage.

Northup has devoted her legal career to the public interest. She was the founding director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, where she litigated voting rights, campaign finance reform and ballot access cases. From 1989 to 1996, she served as a prosecutor and deputy chief of appeals in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Northup graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 1981, where she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. She earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a Kent Scholar and managing editor of the Columbia Law Review.