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Architecture Expert and Researcher of Abortion Clinics On the Future of Access
Last week, a draft decision for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was leaked from the Supreme Court and shows that five justices are preparing a judgment that would strike down Roe v. Wade.
For reporters covering this ongoing story, Syracuse University architecture professor Lori Brown offers a unique perspective due to her work researching the physical structures of abortion clinics and how the debate has shaped access to reproductive healthcare.
She is the author of “Contested Spaces: Abortion Clinics, Women’s Shelters and Hospitals: Politicizing the Female Body,” and the article “Private Choices, Public Spaces. Field notes from Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic.”
There are currently 16 states and the District of Columbia that have laws protecting access to abortion. Brown says that there will be increased visitations to these clinics from people living in places where state governments have completely outlawed abortion.
“The clinics could operate seven days a week and would still not be able to provide the care that will be in high demand. This means that additional clinics or other spaces will need to be constructed, which takes a lot of time,” Brown said.
“Furthermore, it takes funding and finding space where landlords will rent to abortion clinics,” said Brown. “There are many communities and spaces where they won’t rent to clinics offering abortion services. Importantly, zoning laws can be manipulated where clinics can’t operate at all.”
In her book “Contested Spaces” Brown conducted in-depth research on abortion clinics in America and found that many clinics were operating out of spaces that were not originally designed to be health clinics because of the expense of new construction and that landlords were unwilling to rent to them. In a 2014 interview with Fast Company she said:
“Architecture is absent in these types of spaces, they can’t afford architects or architectural services, they believe architects won’t work with them, and they are often in existing spaces that have been re-appropriated as a medical facility,” she says in the article The Architecture Of Abortion: How Providers Build Their Own Buffer Zones.
Additionally, Brown has worked with the Jackson Women’s Health Organization – which is at the heart of the Supreme Court draft opinion that was leaked to the press. Along with the architecture non-profit she co-founded and leads, ArchiteXX, Brown created a design competition to rethink the clinic’s privacy fence.
To schedule an interview with Prof. Brown, please contact Ellen James Mbuqe, executive director of media relations, at email@example.com or 412-496-0551.
For additional background, here are some recent articles and profiles of Prof. Brown:
- The Abortion Clinic Next Door, Through research and design, Lori A. Brown emphasizes the ties between women’s reproductive decisions and broader social forces. Architectural League
- Before #TimesUp, these activist architects fought for equity in their industry, LA Times
- Making abortion clinics beautiful: Meet the architect changing how we view them, Salon
- The Feminist Five: Lori Brown, Feministing