About the Duvall Project
As part of the Foundation of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Duvall Project views reproductive freedom as a core civil liberty and a foundation of the right to privacy. The Duvall Project defends and advances reprodutive rights and liberties in Pennsylvania through research, education, advocacy, and litigation to ensure access to safe and legal reproductive health services for all.
The Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project envisions a world that:
- recognizes sexuality and health as fundamental human rights;
- guarantees reproductive freedom as a constitutional liberty, recognized both independently and in connection with equal rights for women and the rights of privacy, sexual autonomy, and religious freedom;
- provides everyone with the information and services they need to lead healthy lives and to achieve their reproductive health goals.
The Duvall Project's current education and advocacy efforts address issues such as opposing abstinence-only-until-marriage sexuality education and supporting comprehensive sex education in public schools, minors' access and ability to consent to confidential healthcare, increasing health care services for incarcerated women, and increasing access to emergency contraception (EC or "the morning-after pill") particularly for survivors of sexual assault.
The Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project was founded in 1979 by Linn Duvall Harwell in response to her mother's tragic death. Linn's mother, Clara Bell Duvall, died from complications of a self-induced abortion in 1929. She was 34 years old. Five young children, including Linn, were left without a mother because safe and legal abortion was not available. Linn created this organization to ensure that other women do not suffer the same fate as her mother.
Headquartered in Philadelphia, the Duvall Project has been part of the ACLU of Pennsylvania since 2000. The Duvall Project is a non-profit, tax-exempt educational organization supported by individual contributions, grants from private organizations, and special events.
Motherless is a half-hour documentary which recounts the experiences of four children - including our founder, Linn Duvall Harwell and Gwen Elliot, who served on the board of the ACLU's Pittsburgh Chapter - who lost their mothers as a result of complications from unsafe and illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade.
Forty years after that historic Supreme Court decision, and two decades after the film's debut, Motherless is as relevant as ever. Today's entire young adult population was not alive when abortion was illegal and yet still, women's reproductive health rights are subjected to unprecedented attacks in Pennsylvania and state houses nationwide.
Motherless takes the fight for safe and legal abortion access outside of its political confines, and instead reveals poignant personal stories with social and political context provided throughout by a medical historian. This rare and deeply moving insight into the human tragedies behind the facts and statistics lends itself to discussion of the issues both then and now.
The watchmotherless.org website includes a variety of tools for showing the film and facilitating a dialogue amongst a diverse viewership, as well as links to external resources detailing past, present and proposed reproductive health legislation.
Motherless is a piece of our history, and can have a significant impact if people like you will help by sharing it with your friends, family and colleagues.