The 7th Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference:
Applied Feminism and Health
2014 Keynote Speaker
Terry O'Neill, President of NOW
With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) and renewed attacks on reproductive health in the United States, the time was right to consider the relationship between feminism and health across multiple dimensions. The 2014 conference sought to explore the intersections between feminist legal theory and physical, mental, public, and community health in the United States and abroad. Papers explored the following questions: What impact has feminist legal theory had on women’s health policy and practice? How might feminist legal theory respond to the health challenges facing communities and individuals, as well as increase access to health care? What sort of support should society and law provide to ensure good health? How do law and feminist legal theory conceptualize the role of the state in relation to health rights and reproductive justice? What are the links between health, feminist legal theory, and sports? Are there rights to good health and what are their foundations? How do health needs and conceptions of rights vary across cultural, economic, religious, and other identities? What are the areas where health justice is needed and how might feminist legal theory help?
NOW President Terry O'Neill will serve as this year's keynote speaker. A feminist attorney, professor and activist for social justice, she was elected president of NOW in June 2009. She is also president of the NOW Foundation and chair of the NOW Political Action Committees, and serves as the principal spokesperson for all three entities. O'Neill oversees NOW's multi-issue agenda, which includes: advancing reproductive freedom, promoting diversity and ending racism, stopping violence against women, winning lesbian rights, ensuring economic justice, ending sex discrimination and achieving constitutional equality for women.
O'Neill's feminist activism began in the 1990s, fighting right-wing extremists in the Deep South, including David Duke. She has served as president of Louisiana NOW and New Orleans NOW and as a member of the National Racial Diversity Committee. She is a past president of Maryland NOW and served on the NOW National Board twice, representing the Mid-South Region (2000-2001) and the Mid-Atlantic Region (2007-2009). O'Neill was NOW's membership vice president from 2001 to 2005, when she oversaw NOW's membership development program as well as finances and government relations.
A former law professor, O'Neill taught at Tulane in New Orleans and at the University of California at Davis, where her courses included feminist legal theory and international women's rights law, in addition to corporate law and legal ethics. She has testified before committees in the Maryland House of Delegates and has written federal amicus briefs on abortion rights for Louisiana NOW, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.
O'Neill is a skilled political organizer, having worked on such historic campaigns as Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and the campaign leading to the election of Louisiana's first woman U.S. senator, Mary Landrieu. She also worked to elect women's rights supporters to judgeships and the state legislature in Louisiana, as well as the successful campaign to elect former Maryland NOW president and NOW National Board member Duchy Trachtenberg to the Montgomery County (MD) Council.
O'Neill holds a bachelor's degree in French with distinction from Northwestern University and a law degree magna cum laude from Tulane University. She has one child, a daughter who is a proud feminist.