Marlene Gerber Fried, class of 1972


In this interview, Marlene Gerber Fried, Brown University class of 1972, discusses teaching and reproductive justice activism during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Fried begins by remembering when she first learned about COVID-19. She recalls concerns around travel in early March 2020 as she flew home from visiting her grandchildren, but not being overly concerned. She describes returning to teach “From Choice to Justice: The Politics of the Abortion Debate” to students from Hampshire College, University of Massachusetts, and Mount Holyoke, and notes that each school was sending out different guidance related to the virus and spring break. She talks about her fears of transitioning to online learning and figuring out the new technology. However, she adds that it was not difficult to slightly change the course readings in order to connect it to reproductive rights issues during the pandemic.

Fried goes on to more specifically discuss the quick work of anti-abortion activists who restricted access to abortions claiming it was not an essential service and therefore should not be offered during the pandemic. She explains the necessity of reproductive healthcare as well as emerging Massachusetts legislation that would protect those rights if Roe v. Wade was overturned. Fried adds that the National Network of Abortion Funds continues to work during this time to raise money for individuals who are in need of abortions. She affirms that she continues this activism because “reproductive health, rights, and justice is not really just my individual situation, but it’s about whole communities and whose reproduction is supported and valued in a society.”


Recorded on May 21, 2020 via Zoom
Interviewed by Amanda Knox, Pembroke Center Assistant Archivist

Suggested Chicago style citation: Fried, Marlene Gerber. Interview. By Amanda Knox. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. May 21, 2020.


Marlene Gerber Fried is currently a professor of philosophy and faculty director of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College, a program for education and activism about reproductive health, rights and justice.

Fried earned her PhD from Brown University in 1972. Her scholarship and teaching are focused primarily on abortion rights and access, reproductive and sexual rights and health, and legal theory.

She is a long-time reproductive rights activist, and was the founding president and served for 21 years on the board of the National Network of Abortion Funds. She was also the founding president and continues to serve on the board of the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts. Additionally, she works on abortion advocacy internationally with the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights.

Fried is a recipient of the 2014 Felicia Stewart Advocacy Award as well as the Warrior Women Award from SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.