Janet Benshoof

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Janet Benshoof (born 1947, in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota) is an American human rights lawyer, and President of the Global Justice Center.[1]

She graduated from the University of Minnesota summa cum laude,[2] and from Harvard Law School with a Juris Doctor. She has taught human rights law at Bard College[3] and Harvard Law School.[4]

She established landmark legal precedents in the U.S. Supreme Court and international forums. She launch successful legal efforts from the approval of emergency contraception for women by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to the application of international rape law to ensure the rights of women in the Iraq High Tribunal prosecutions of Saddam-era war crimes. She also lectures and trains women leaders, judges, parliamentarians, and various UN bodies on implementing international human rights laws (such as CEDAW) and international humanitarian law, including women's rights to criminal accountability under Security Council Resolutions and by the International Criminal Court.[5]

Ms. Benshoof has published numerous articles in the Harvard Law Review, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The New York University Journal of International Law and Policy, and Law Ka Pala, a Journal of The Burma Lawyers' Council. Her approaching publications include "Global Justice for the Twenty-First Century: International Legal Issues" for the Encyclopedia of Global Studies, "US Ratification of CEDAW: An Opportunity to Revisit and Reframe the Right to Equality Accorded Women under the US Constitution" for the NYU Review of Law and Social Change, and "The Upcoming Elections in Burma: Increasing Risks to Global Security by Constitutionalizing a Military Monopoly on Nuclear Development" with the Burma Lawyers' Council.[6]

She served for 15 years as director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project,[7] which litigated cases dealing with gender equality, free speech, and reproductive choice. In 1992, she left the ACLU to found the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (now the Center for Reproductive Rights), the first international human rights organization focused on women's rights to equality; she served as its first president.[8] She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and its Burma Task Force.[9]

Ms. Benshoof has appeared on the BBC, CBS Evening News, ABC World News Tonight, Good Morning America, Nightline, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.[10]

Concerning the contraceptive mandates debate, Benshoof wrote, "There are strong stereotypes about women that are behind this discrimination. Men are meant to have erections and sexual pleasure. Hence, fund Viagra. Women are designed to get pregnant, become mothers, and not be sexual. Hence don't fund 'unnatural' contraception or abortion."[11]


  • 1992 MacArthur Fellows Program
  • Edith I. Spivack Award for Outstanding New York Women Lawyers
  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America Margaret Sanger Award
  • Gloria Steinem Women of Vision Award
  • "100 Most Influential Lawyers in America" in the National Law Journal


  1. ^ > About > Our Team. Global Justice Center. Retrieved on 2011-04-11.
  2. ^ Intrepid Champion for Rights: College of Liberal Arts : University of Minnesota. Cla.umn.edu (2010-06-04). Retrieved on 2011-04-11.
  3. ^ BARD COLLEGE FACULTY – FALL 2003. Inside.bard.edu. Retrieved on 2011-04-11.
  4. ^ Harvard WLA Spring Conference. Law.harvard.edu. Retrieved on 2011-04-11.
  5. ^ "Global Justice Center Staff" http://www.globaljusticecenter.net/index.php/about-us/our-team
  6. ^ "Global Justice Center Staff" http://www.globaljusticecenter.net/index.php/about-us/our-team
  7. ^ "Testing Guam's Tough New Abortion Law, Janet Benshoof Is Arraigned for Giving Advice", People, Charles E. Cohen, Jay Lin, Maria Speidel, April 09, 1990
  8. ^ "PUBLIC LIVES; Defending the Defenders of Abortion Rights", The New York Times, JOYCE WADLER, November 4, 1998
  9. ^ Burma: Time For Change – Council on Foreign Relations. Cfr.org. Retrieved on 2011-04-11.
  10. ^ "Global Justice Center Staff" http://www.globaljusticecenter.net/index.php/about-us/our-team
  11. ^ Who's Getting Paid to Have Sex? The Politicization of Female Sexuality

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