Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center

Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy

Sharon G. Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy, joined the Center in June 2012, and oversees the Center's work on reproductive health law and policy at the national level. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Levin was Vice President and General Counsel at the National Abortion Federation; a consultant for NARAL Pro-Choice America; and Director of Advocacy at the Washington Area Women's Foundation. Ms. Levin was also Co-Chief Counsel to Senator Charles E. Schumer and Special Assistant for Women's Issues and Legislative Counsel to Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey. Ms. Levin is an Adjunct Professor at American University's Washington College of Law, and holds a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and a B.A. in history from Columbia University.

My Take

Murphy Brown: Stepping Out of Our TV Sets and Into Reality

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: March 24, 2015 at 11:14 am

While all four of the finalists in the Women’s History Month March Madness Bracket are deserving of the win, Murphy Brown did something that none of the others have ever done… for several months in 1992 she stepped out of our TV sets and into reality. And for that reason, she may be the most important woman fictional character ever on TV.

For those of you who don’t remember, when Murphy Brown debuted in 1988, the eponymous main character of the show (played by Candice Bergen) was someone we’d never seen before on our TV sets. A successful television news anchor, in some ways she was just the next evolution in the line of characters started by Diahann Carroll and Mary Tyler Moore — women who weren’t defined by their relationships with a man but by their careers. But where Julia was a maternal nurse working for a kind male doctor, and Mary was a spunky TV producer working for a gruff male news chief, Murphy was neither maternal nor spunky and she didn’t work for anyone. She was the boss — in reality if not in name.

Read more...

Quiz: And The Oscar Goes To...Movies About Abortion

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: January 14, 2015 at 11:33 am

This year’s Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 15th.  Like many feminist movie fans, I’ll be waiting to learn which movies that I loved — those featuring strong and interesting women — have garnered a nomination.  Obvious Child, the romantic comedy in which Jenny Slate’s character has an abortion, was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards this year and although a very long-shot for the Oscars, made several “Best of 2014” lists.  

While we are waiting to learn which movies have a chance for the golden statuette, here is a quiz about some movies that include women having abortions that have either been nominated for or won Oscars in the past: 

Read more...

The Hobby Lobby Decision Takes a Fundamentally Flawed Approach to Reproductive Health

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: October 16, 2014 at 10:50 am

It is hard to underestimate the potential impact of the Supreme Court’s decision Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on women’s equality. That is the case in which the Court held that some for-profit corporations could refuse to provide health insurance coverage of birth control for their employees despite the federal contraceptive coverage law that required it. The Court’s decision, at heart, is rooted in a very old and very outdated misunderstanding about women. And that is the idea that women’s reproductive health is somehow “extra,” “different,” or “separate.” This fundamentally wrong assumption about women’s reproductive health has been used for ages to take away women’s rights. By reinforcing this dangerous approach to women’s reproductive health, the Court has put all aspects of women’s rights at risk. Here’s how it works:

Read more...

Abortion Restrictions Can Make it Harder to Leave Violent Relationships: What the New Study Means for Our Current Policy Fights

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: October 02, 2014 at 12:35 pm

You may have already read about the first-of-its-kind study that documents the connection between denials of abortion and intimate partner violence.  Now it is up to us to use this important new evidence in the fight to stop bad abortion laws at the state and federal levels.

Read more...

Hobby Lobby: A "Perfect Storm" to Galvanize the Public

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: July 14, 2014 at 01:35 pm

Although I was expecting a strong public outcry after the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, the depth and breadth of the outrage has surprised me. People who have never expressed an interest in women’s issues are posting about it on Facebook and asking me questions about the case. Friends who have a passing interest in reproductive rights have reached out to me to find out what they can do and where they can donate.

I think the reason for this wide-spread outrage is that in the Hobby Lobby decision, several different long-term attacks on individual liberties all come together. Just as three different weather fronts collided to make the 1991 “Perfect Storm” that is the subject of the book and film of the same name, three different “fronts” collide in the Court’s decision as well:

Read more...