SMNR: Reproductive Justice, Criminal Law, and the Carceral State

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
MON 3:55 - 5:45 pm JON 6.206

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


The criminalization of abortion in many U.S. states following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has disrupted the presumed divide between reproductive rights and criminal law, with many in each field now attempting to familiarize themselves with the other. Reproductive justice scholars and advocates, however, have long been working at the intersection of these fields—considering the impacts of the overcriminalization and surveillance of poor communities of color on a variety of pregnancy outcomes. They have also identified multiple ways that criminal law, mass incarceration, and other institutional mechanisms such as the child welfare system impede not only the right not to have children but to have them and to raise them in safety and with dignity.

This seminar will use a reproductive justice lens to consider the criminalization of reproduction, broadly understood—historical and contemporary, local and global. It will be organized around the work of leading scholars who will present their research to the university community in a public forum as part of the course. Students will read work by each speaker as well as related scholarly materials.

Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, engage with speakers during the public lectures, write short critical responses to assigned reading, and write a longer essay on a topic related to the themes that arise during the semester. The seminar is open not only to law students but to non-law graduate and professional students with relevant background.

Cristina Ramirez and Blake Rocap will also participate in presenting this course.