Since 1920, the ACLU has recognized that personal privacy and reproductive freedom are among our most important constitutional liberties. The decision to have an abortion is deeply personal, and is best left to a person, their family, and their doctor. The ACLU was the first national organization to argue for abortion rights before the Supreme Court, and has been a principal defender of those rights since 1973, when the Court recognized the right to abortion in Roe v. Wade.
In spite of the constitutional guarantee to safe, legal abortion care, extremists in the Pennsylvania legislature have worked to restrict abortion services out of existence in the state. Of course, these restrictions fall disproportionately on low-income people, people of color, young people and people in rural areas. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, the ACLU of Pennsylvania works to ensure that everyone can make the best decision for themselves and for their family about whether and when to have a child, without undue interference by politicians.
The Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project is a special project of the ACLU of Pennsylvania that focuses on reproductive health and rights. Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures performed today, and it’s incredibly safe. But Clara Bell Duvall’s story reminds us what’s at stake when abortion is pushed out of reach. She died from complications of an illegal abortion in Pittsburgh in 1929, leaving behind five young children who grew up without a mother. One of her children, Linn Duvall Harwell, founded the Clara Bell Dvuall Education Fund in 1979 to ensure that other families would not suffer as hers did. Read more about the Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project.