Partners in service: Former AG Eric Holder and Dr. Sharon Malone on reproductive rights and threats to democracy

On November 16, in a conversation hosted by NYU Law’s Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network (BWLN), former US attorney general Eric Holder and obstetrician and gynecologist Sharon Malone discussed their shared commitment as a married couple to public service. Among the subjects Holder and Malone covered were their joint experience at the junction of law and medicine, recent landmark decisions by the Supreme Court, and Holder’s new book, Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote. A History, a Crisis, a Plan.

Moderated by BWLN executive director Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, the event was co-hosted by NYU’s John Brademas Center and NYU Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, and the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Troy McKenzie, Dean and Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law, delivered opening remarks.

Watch the full discussion on video:

Selected quotes from the discussion:

Dr. Sharon Malone: “The intersection of law and medicine has always been… particularly [evident] when it comes to issues of women’s reproductive rights and medicine and law. And it starts from the beginning, [with questions like]: who does a woman belong to? does she have her own agency?—to the anti-miscegenation laws—who a woman is allowed to love and have children with—to forced sterilization, to who can have contraception. We have a long, varied history of the legal profession and the laws dictating what women can and cannot do with their own bodies.” (video, 25:52)

Eric Holder: “Because of gerrymandering, you have the ability in the state legislatures to pass these draconian anti-choice, forced-birth bills that are inconsistent with the desires of the people who these state legislators represent. If you look at the polling, the people in every state said they did not want to have Roe v. Wade overturned. The percentages will be different in New York as opposed to Texas, but it is over 50 percent of people in every state.…The combination of gerrymandering, the theft of two Supreme Court seats, and the radicalization of the [Supreme] Court has put us in a place where, in a whole variety of areas, our democracy is at risk.” (video, 32:27)

Posted on January 12, 2023