Janet Benshoof was a human rights lawyer from the United States and an advocate for women’s equality, sexual and reproductive rights.
She campaigned to broaden access to contraceptives and abortions across the world, and battled anti-abortion rulings and in the American territory of Guam. She was arrested in 1990 for opposing her country’s most restrictive abortion law, but won an injunction at the local court in Guam that blocked the law and eventually won at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, striking down the law for good.
“The women in Guam are in a very tragic situation. I never intend to be quiet about that.” - Janet Benshoof for People Magazine
Janet established landmark legal precedents including the US Food and Drug Administrations’ approval of emergency contraception, as well as the application of international law to ensure the rights of rape victims in the Iraqi High Tribunal’s prosecution of Saddam-era war crimes.
Janet was President and founder of the Global Justice Center, as well as founder of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the world’s first international human rights organization focused on reproductive choice and equality. She served 15 years as Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Rights Project, where she spearheaded litigation shaping US constitutional law on gender equality, free speech, and reproductive rights.
“Janet was known for her brilliant legal mind, her sharp sense of humor, and for her courage in the face of injustice.” - Anthony D. Romero
Named one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal, Janet was the recipient of numerous awards and honors.
She was born in May 1947 and passed away in December 2017.