Jill Heaviside ’18 has been named a Reproductive Justice Fellow by If/When/How, a national network of law students and legal professionals.
Heaviside will serve her fellowship as an RJ-HIV Fellow at Sisterlove, an Atlanta-based HIV and reproductive justice nonprofit that provides women, particularly women of color, with health education, testing and counseling services as well as legal advocacy.
While studying at Vanderbilt Law School, Heaviside conducted policy research for ThinkTennessee, a nonpartisan think tank advancing pragmatic policies that would improve the health and lives of Tennesseans, and served on the steering committee of Advocates for Women and Kids Equality (AWAKE), a Nashville-based advocacy nonprofit, where she led the successful lobbying and advocacy efforts for a child sexual abuse prevention bill in the Tennessee General Assembly.
“I’ve seen that there are real opportunities for lawyers to serve as effective advocates in the policy and legislative space,’” Heaviside said in an interview published by If/When/How. “I hope to continue using the tools law school has given me to identify areas of the law that can be improved, elevate marginalized voices, train those affected by the law to become advocates, and work with legislators to amend and improve existing laws to better serve their communities.”
A native of Ridgefield, Connecticut, Heaviside earned her undergraduate degree in medicine, health and society at Vanderbilt University. She was motivated to focus on reproductive justice by her mother’s and grandmother’s strong commitment to women’s right to bodily autonomy. “My mother taught me that we need to trust women and their decisions regarding their bodies and what is best for them and their families, and to do so, we need to work to make sure that reproductive services are always safe, accessible and legal,” she said.
Heaviside served as president of the Health Law Society. She completed legal clerkships with the American Bar Association’s Justice Defenders Program in Washington, D.C., and with several Nashville-area law firms.