Symposium Looks at Reproductive Rights
Web Editor - Published: January 28, 2012

“Women’s rights are human rights,” Beth Steinberg of the Women’s Law Caucus succinctly observed as she offered the welcome at Roe v. Wade at 39: Reproductive Rights Law Symposium on the evening of Tuesday, January 24th.

Steinberg, who organized the event and served as the event chair, discussed the historical context of Roe v. Wade and the history of the debate over abortion in her opening remarks, but before turning to the panel, she noted, “This is not a referendum on abortion itself, and we will be talking about other reproductive rights issues.”

Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs Susan L. Goldberg, who served as the moderator for the distinguished panel, introduced the speakers; Kimberly Mutcherson, Associate Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law, Camden; Theresa Glennon, Professor of Law at Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law; Widener Law adjunct Roseann B. Termini; and John G. Culhane, Professor of Law and Director of the Health Law Institute.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about abortion,” observed Mutcherson as she opened her presentation, Abortion Politics & Law: 39 Years after Roe, which offered a comprehensive and informative overview of significant statistics related to abortion in the United States, as well as a look at landmark abortion cases and the present state of abortion regulation. “We are nowhere near the end of this fight,” she concluded, noting that further scientific advancements will only lead to new potential ammunition for both pro-life and pro-choice advocates.

Professor Glennon discussed issues related to assisted reproductive technology and reproductive autonomy. She touched on a number of critical issues, including how the fact that decisions on reproductive assistance are often made in for-profit reproductive clinics might shape the decision-making process. “Assisted reproduction is complicated. The debates that are related to abortion complicate the issue,” she said.

“When you look at a decision, always remember that politics is involved,” noted Professor Termini when discussing the outcome of cases related to abortion and reproductive rights issues. Her talk – Sex, Politics, Morality, and Plan B: Consensus or Confusion – looked specifically at Plan B, the so-called “Morning After Pill” and cases related to its use and availability.

Finally, Professor Culhane spoke about the how public health perspective might be useful in the debate surrounding abortion in his talk – Abortion, Public Health, and Informed Consent. “If we’re going to use the mantle of public health, we should at least have some good data to use,” he noted before closing with a question about whether Roe “was the panacea” that some thought it might be at the time of the decision.