The same day the story broke, I wrote an email to Karen Pearlman Raab, the school's Director for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs:
Dear Ms. Raab,
I was very disappointed to see that Drexel's pro bono program encourages students to participate in the "Abortion Clinic Escort Service," run by Law Students for Reproductive Justice. On your website, students responsibilities in this program are described as follows: "Should a protester violate the First Amendment, the student escort will take a full report and file his or her notes of the incident with the Court" (emphasis added). That is a legal impossibility, as only state actors can violate the First Amendment. This baseless legal threat can only serve to intimidate lawful pro-life protesters. The Abortion Clinic Escort Service project reflects poorly on Drexel's ability to teach constitutional law, as well as on its commitment to serve the public good.
In addition, I want to make you aware that the Planned Parenthood on Locust Street (located less than 10 minutes from the law school) failed a 2010 health inspection for its failure to provide adequate follow-up care to abortion patients. The Judicial Bypass Intake project, also run by Law Students for Reproductive Justice, facilitates abortions by minors without their parents' knowledge. If one of those minors were to visit the Locust Street Planned Parenthood, she could find herself in need of emergency care-- at which point her parents would certainly need to be involved. The Judicial Bypass Intake project could expose Drexel to significant liability.
I respectfully request that the pro bono program cease referring law students to these two projects, on the ground that they do not serve the public good and are harmful to Drexel's reputation.
It has been almost a week and I have received no direct response from Ms. Raab. Drexel has, however, made a change to the "Abortion Clinic Escort Service" project on its website, deleting the reference to the bogus constitutional argument. It now reads "Should a student escort perceive a potential violation of a woman's safe and lawful access to services, he or she will take a full report of the incident and file his or her notes with appropriate officials."
Needless to say, this response is completely inadequate. There is no indication whatsoever that Drexel has taken steps to avoid interfering with pro-lifers' First Amendment right to protest. Nor is there any indication that they have taken steps to avoid involvement with the Locust Street Planned Parenthood through the Judicial Bypass Intake Project.
Ms. Raab, a slight change to the website with no further communication or action is NOT the kind of meaningful reform that Drexel's pro bono program needs. It's time to go up the ladder.
Please sign this petition urging Drexel to end its complicity with abortion and censorship. We will keep the petition open until next Thursday, and then send it to the Dean and Law School Board on Friday, March 30th. With twenty board members-- including several federal judges with considerable experience in constitutional law-- at least some of them are bound to be disturbed by the current state of Drexel's pro bono program.