August 16, 2023
By Rachel Utz
If/When/How’s Quick Question series highlights the work of our Reproductive Justice Fellows, introducing our network to the incredible advocates who are dedicating their lives to the movement to lawyer for reproductive justice. We’re so proud of the work they’re doing at placement organizations across the country.
Rachel Utz graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelors of Science in Communication in 2019 and then from the University’s Brandeis School of Law in 2023. She is from Northern Kentucky and has wanted to do civil rights law from a very young age. She began exploring more of the repro world while working at the ACLU-KY, the same summer that the Dobbs decision was released.
During law school, Rachel worked as a resilience justice fellow, a fellowship aimed at addressing environmental racism in the community and identifying how best to remedy the issue. Being a resilience justice fellow allowed her to be a co-author on two publications, one of which has been selected by peer review as among the top 20 environmental law articles published in the US in its respective year. She taught Street Law courses at a historically Black high school in Louisville, teaching the students about their rights, what to do if they are pulled over, the right to privacy, and other basic constitutional law principles. She served as the Vice President for the Black Law Student Association and as the Community Engagement Chair with the Student Bar Association. She interned with the ACLU of Kentucky and helped research the possible criminality in a post-Roe world and how to navigate a state that had a trigger ban. She worked with the Kentucky Equal Justice Center to identify those affected by felony disenfranchisement, reaching out to over 300 Kencutkians, and encouraged them to apply to have their voting rights restored and then register to vote.
In her own local community, Rachel helped to found the Boone County Community Remembrance Project which is working to identify the people that were lynched in the county and to bring a monument to the county to honor them, while also educating the community.
In her very limited free time, Rachel enjoys taking care of her houseplants, crocheting, spending time with friends, or helping her mom at her flower farm.
We asked Rachel Utz to tell us a little about herself as she prepares to begin her Reproductive Justice Fellowship year at SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! this fall.
If/When/How: Who are you?
Rachel Utz: My name is Rachel Utz (she/her)!
If/When/How: Where are you from?
RU: I am from Northern Kentucky and am currently living in Louisville. I am graduating from the University of Louisville, Brandeis School of Law.
If/When/How: Where are you going?
RU: I will be moving to Atlanta to work with SPARK Reproductive Justice! I hope my career will take me further to help create radical change, largely in the criminal justice world. I am hoping to live in a world where abolition becomes a reality!
If/When/How: What drew you to reproductive justice work?
RU: I did not really dive into the reproductive justice world until after the Dobbs decision. Since then, I have come to learn more about the intersectionality of reproductive justice work and learned just how much is at stake. It pushed me to get more involved and to learn how to better advocate for people that have their rights at risk.
If/When/How: What makes you powerful?RU: I am powerful because of my passion. I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was nine years old and it is surreal to be this far. I have always had a heart for civil rights and my passion has propelled me. My ancestors are living through me and I will continue to fight. I want to help make real changes for my community because we deserve it.