Megan Gordon

The Project

Megan’s Fellowship will provide legal services to vulnerable cancer patients in Washington, D.C. and will help clients address unmet needs surrounding health insurance matters.

The impact of a cancer diagnosis is life-changing and often devastating for patients and their families. In addition to the physical, mental, and financial issues associated with cancer, many patients also face unexpected legal challenges. Unfortunately, it is also at this critical time that patients are more likely to lose health insurance coverage, have a gap in coverage, or not be able to access the services they need.

Fellowship Plans

Megan will work with the Cancer Legal Assistance and Wellbeing (Cancer LAW) project at Medstar Washington Hospital Center, a collaboration with Georgetown’s Health Justice Alliance, which provides pro bono legal services to cancer patients receiving care at the hospital. After developing a new screening tool to identify patients with health insurance needs, Megan will work with patients referred for these and related legal issues. She will enroll patients in coverage, appeal improper denials of coverage, pursue retroactive Medicaid funds, and create resources to train future attorneys in this work. She will also collaborate with pro bono partners to create a Medicare Part D enrollment clinic to ensure that patients enroll in the best plan for their needs.

Cancer invites complicated legal problems. When I can help with their legal issue, patients can focus on their healing.

Megan Gordon /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Dana protects the rights of pregnant and parenting people in the Bronx to receive the accommodations and support they need to stay healthy on the job.

Every day, pregnant workers are forced to choose between their health and bringing home a paycheck. Low-income women in New York spend most of their waking hours while pregnant at work, often in highly restrictive environments where workers’ ability to rest, use the bathroom, and eat are tightly controlled. Despite powerful new state and local laws protecting pregnant workers, employers continue to deny workers reasonable accommodations to prevent pregnancy complications from arising; paid family leave to allow new parents to bond with their babies, reducing the risk of postpartum depression; and lactation accommodations to allow breastfeeding workers to express milk in a private, sanitary space, improving the health of both parent and baby. When employers unlawfully push pregnant workers off the job, they can lose their income, healthcare, and even housing at the very moment they need it most.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first twelve months, Dana:

  • Created a Legal Clinic at a Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in the Southwest Bronx, where she provides legal support and representation to working women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a new child.
  • Created and delivered a suite of “know your rights” and “issue-spotting” workshops to over 600 workers, service providers, and healthcare providers related to pregnancy, breastfeeding, parenting, and caregiving, including how to seek additional information and assistance through the Legal Clinic.
  • Submitted testimony and lobbied New York City to improve its pregnancy accommodation regulations and successfully argued that pregnant workers should not have to submit medical documentation for certain types of accommodations.
  • Developed vital resources for pregnant and postpartum workers, including guides to workplace rights for individuals experiencing postpartum depression and “Pregnant in New York? Know Your Rights” step-by-step legal guide.

Next Steps

In the next twelve months, Dana plans to:

  • Pilot partnership with local maternal health clinics to ensure that pregnant and postpartum people’s workplace needs are evaluated and supported.
  • Advocate to pass federal pregnancy accommodation law, to ensure no worker has to choose between her health and her livelihood.

This can mean the difference between falling into homelessness and being able to welcome a child into a healthy circumstance and a financially secure home.

Dana Bolger /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Lauren litigated under the Eighth Amendment to end the use of solitary confinement for pregnant women and develop medical and legal partnerships to create and enforce healthcare access for female prisoners.

This project served pregnant prisoners who suffered unconstitutional conditions, including placement in solitary confinement. Approximately 215,000 women were held in state, federal, or local custody in 2014. Experts estimate about 5% of these women—meaning thousands of women—enter prison or jail pregnant, and an unknown number of women are impregnated while incarcerated, usually through coercive sex or outright rape by guards. All of these women could be harmed by the use of solitary confinement and lack of access to reproductive healthcare and options. Prisoners are at a unique disadvantage when it comes to accessing legal services. Nationwide, few organizations exist to assist prisoners with habeas and civil claims, and those that do exist always have far more potential clients than they are able to serve.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship period, Lauren:

  • Filed several class complaints and successful motions and briefs on behalf of detained and incarcerated people across the country
  • Conducted in-person investigation into conditions of confinement for pregnant people incarcerated in North Carolina including interviews with currently incarcerated women and other advocates
  • Developed “Reproductive Justice Behind Bars,” an ACLU national and affiliate working group and monthly phone call to share resources and assistance on promoting reproductive rights behind bars
  • Worked with local coalition in North Carolina to ensure the release of dozens of pregnant people incarcerated during COVID-19

Next Steps

Following the Fellowship, Lauren has stayed on with ACLU National Prison Project, where she continues to pursue justice for pregnant and postpartum incarcerated people. 

Media

Pregnant NC prisoners hopes of release fading

During COVID-19 crisis, prioritize release of pregnant inmates

Pregnant Women in North Carolina Prisons are Being Kept in Solitary Confinement

Repealing the Tampon Tax is Just the Beginning

Pregnant and shackled: why inmates are still giving birth cuffed and bound

Speak Freely No One Should be Forced to Give Birth Alone in a Jail Cell

Maine Congressman Claims Free Period Products Don't Belong in Jail Because It's Not a 'Country Club'

The Time is Now: Pregnant People Incarcerated in North Carolina Must be Released