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Mrs Nancy Northup, President and CEO

Nancy Northup, President & CEO

Nancy NorthupAs the President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights since 2003, Nancy Northup has led the organization’s exceptional growth, tripling its operating budget over the course of a decade, expanding its offices from one to six, and establishing the Center as an international resource for legal strategy and innovation.

Under Ms. Northup’s leadership, the Center’s game-changing litigation and advocacy work—combined with its unparalleled expertise in the use of constitutional, international, and comparative human rights law—have transformed how reproductive rights are understood by courts, governments, and human rights bodies.  By bringing groundbreaking cases before national courts, UN committees, and regional human rights bodies, the organization has played a key role in securing legal victories in the U.S., Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. The Center has also built the legal capacity of women’s rights advocates in over 60 countries. 

Ms. Northup was previously the founding director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, 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. Prior to that she was a law clerk to the Honorable Alvin B. Rubin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.  

She has held adjunct appointments at NYU Law School and Columbia Law School, and taught courses in constitutional and human rights law.  She has trained lawyers in litigation strategy in the Philippines, Nigeria, and Bulgaria.

Ms. Northup graduated from Brown University and Columbia Law School, where she was a Kent Scholar and Managing Editor of the Columbia Law Review.

A frequent public speaker, Ms. Northup is quoted widely in the national press including the New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post, and has appeared on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, FOX News, PBS, MSNBC, and NPR.

Ms. Northup was born in Kokomo, Indiana, and grew up in New York, Texas, and California. She is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist, who has taught Sunday school and has served as President of the Board of Trustees of All Souls Church.

For more than 20 years, the Center for Reproductive Rights has used the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill.

Reproductive freedom lies at the heart of the promise of human dignity, self-determination and equality embodied in both the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Center works toward the time when that promise is enshrined in law in the United States and throughout the world. We envision a world where every woman is free to decide whether and when to have children; where every woman has access to the best reproductive healthcare available; where every woman can exercise her choices without coercion or discrimination. More simply put, we envision a world where every woman participates with full dignity as an equal member of society.

Since 1992, our attorneys have boldly used legal and human rights tools to create this world. We are the only global legal advocacy organization dedicated to reproductive rights, with expertise in both U.S. constitutional and international human rights law. Our groundbreaking cases before national courts, United Nations committees, and regional human rights bodies have expanded access to reproductive healthcare, including birth control, safe abortion, prenatal and obstetric care, and unbiased information. We influence the law outside the courtroom as well, documenting abuses, working with policymakers to promote progressive measures, and fostering legal scholarship and teaching on reproductive health and human rights.

We are legal innovators seeking to fundamentally transform the landscape of reproductive health and rights worldwide, and have already strengthened laws and policies in more than 50 countries. Help us realize every woman's right to reproductive health and autonomy.


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