Burnett (J.D. ’09) Honored for Work in Reproductive Justice

In law school, Madison Burnett (J.D. ’09) led a campaign to help refugee women have safe births. That passion for helping others led the National Law Students for Reproductive Justice Chapter to honor her with its 2015 Outstanding Alumni award.

She started the Law Students for Reproductive Justice Chapter at Georgia State University College of Law in 2006, and she’s been hooked ever since. Burnett served as president of the LSRJ Board of Directors in 2008. The mission of the organization is to train and mobilize law students to foster legal expertise and support for the realization of reproductive justice.

“LSRJ is an explicitly pro-choice organization; not everybody is going to agree. That doesn’t mean we can’t reach a consensus on other issues, like access to adoption. It’s all about coalition building,” Burnett said.

While attending Georgia State Law, Burnett helped to implement the “I helped safely deliver a baby,” campaign, which raised money to assist in creating safe birth kits for refugee women. People were asked to donate a dollar to the campaign and they were given a sticker that said: “I helped safely deliver a baby,” in return. “It’s been found that if women who are giving birth in refugee and Internally Displaced Persons camps have access to basic materials like sterile gauze…it cuts down on the rate of infection for mother and child,” Burnett said.

“I worked in public policy before law school and I noticed that lawyers were always the ones who made changes happen,” Burnett said. “I knew public interest work would be a part of my life but I wasn’t sure in what capacity yet.”

After graduating from Georgia State Law, Burnett worked for Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP, representing business and insurance industry clients. She also worked with the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation where she assisted pro bono clients. Burnett received the foundation’s 2012 Volunteer of the Year award. In October, Burnett returned to Georgia State University as  Assistant General Counsel in the Office of Legal Affairs. She is one of eight lawyers who help negotiate contracts, provide legal advice on program planning and more.

Burnett is most proud of helping build LSRJ’s organization over the years, working to build leadership and continuing to increase the visibility of the issues. She feels like “An organization is only as good as its future leaders. We’ve gone from about 20 chapters when I started the Georgia State chapter my first year to nearly 80 chapters today.”

Burnett continues to volunteer and to connect with groups like Feminist Women’s Health Center, SisterLove and SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, which advance reproductive justice issues in Georgia.