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The Other Side of Reproductive Rights: The Untold Story and Ethics of Modern Eugenics

February 28, 2014 @ 8:00 am - 11:45 pm


S.J. Quinney College of Law, Sutherland Moot Courtroom

“The Other Side of Reproductive Rights: The Untold Story and Ethics of Modern Eugenics” discusses an aspect of reproductive rights that gets much less attention than abortion: society’s attempts to prevent or at least discourage some classes of women and men from having children.

The event will begin with a reading of Stumped, a one act play by law professor and playwright Debora Threedy, which was inspired by a 1978 US Supreme Court case, Stump v. Sparkman, involving the sterilization of a minor without her knowledge or consent. The reading will be followed by two panels.

Symposium speakers include Paul Lombardo, the leading legal historian on the eugenics movement in the United States; Kristin Kalsem, an expert on law and literature with an emphasis on social justice; Laura Kessler, an expert in family law and legal feminism; Teneille Brown, an expert on law and biomedical ethics; James Tabery, an expert in the field of the philosophy of science and applied ethics; Linda Smith, a lawyering skills and ethics expert; and Candace Gibson, an expert on reproductive health in communities of color.

Panel 1 – Moderated by Debora Threedy. Comments on the play, the history of the case, and the broader story of eugenics in American law from a legal and ethical perspective.  

Laura Kessler, Professor of Law, University of Utah
Kristen Kalsem, Charles Hartstock Professor of Law, University of Cincinnatti
Paul Lombardo, Bobby Lee Cook Professor of Law, Georgia State University

Panel 2 – Moderated by Laura Kessler. Discussion of the ethical challenges presented by modern day eugenics, such as fetal genetic screening and the rights of the disabled and minorities to have children.

Teneille Brown, Associate Professor of Law, University of Utah
James Tabery, Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Utah
Candace Gibson, Law Students for Reproductive Justice Second Year Fellow, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH)
Linda Smith, Professor of Law, University of Utah

3 Ethics CLE credits, email communications@law.utah.edu

Stump v. Sparkman »

A documentary history of eugenics »

“Modern eugenics is little interested in authoritarian controls. Rather it is hoping to shape the social and economic environment in such a way as to influence eugenic distribution of births throughout the entire population in a voluntary and largely unconscious process of selection.”

– Frederick Osborn, “Eugenics,” Encyclopedia Britannica , 1969. 


7:45 a.m.         Continental Breakfast

8:00 a.m.         Introductory Remarks

8:15 a.m.         Reading of Stumped

8:45 a.m.         Panel 1/ Q&A

10:00 a.m.      Break

10:15 a.m.      Panel 2/ Q&A

11:45 p.m.      Audience discussion/Lunch

Speakers and panelists include:

threedyDebora Threedy, Lee E. Teitelbaum Endowed Professor of Law, University of Utah
Professor Threedy holds a J.D. from Loyola University of Chicago and a B.A. in theater from Beloit College. Prior to joining the faculty in 1986, she clerked for The Honorable Susan Getzendanner, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She practiced with Mayer, Brown & Platt in Chicago, specializing in banking and commercial litigation. Professor Threedy’s scholarship ranges across several substantive areas, but her focus is on issues of power and subordination in the context of gender, race and class. She advocates the use of “legal archaeology” as a method for uncovering embedded structures of power in the law; her legal archaeology case study of Alaska Packers Assoc. v. Domenico is quoted or cited in many first year Contracts casebooks.

kesslerLaura Kessler, Professor of Law, University of Utah
Professor Laura T. Kessler is a nationally known expert in two areas: work and family conflict and the legal regulation of non-nuclear families.  She is particularly interested in how the law perpetuates gender-based economic inequality. Her scholarship has explored questions of employment discrimination, family law, and social welfare law. Publication highlights include “New Frontiers in Family Law,” in Transcending the Boundaries of Law: Generations of Feminism and Legal Theory, “Community Parenting,” “Transgressive Caregiving,” and “The Attachment Gap.” Professor Kessler’s work has been cited or reprinted in Supreme Court amicus briefs, law school casebooks, edited anthologies, and numerous law review articles. Prior to joining the law faculty, Professor Kessler clerked for the Honorable Ronald L. Ellis in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, litigated class-action civil rights cases for the ACLU of Maryland, and served as a teaching fellow at Columbia Law School.

Paul_LombardoPaul Lombardo, Bobby Lee Cook Professor of Law, Georgia State University
Professor Lombardo is a lawyer/historian who currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, where he has participated in studies such as “Ethically Impossible”: STD Research in Guatemala from 1946-1948 (2011), Moral Science: Protecting Participants in Human Subjects Research (2011), and Privacy and Progress in Whole Genome Sequencing (2012).  He has been interviewed by the the BBCUSA TodayNPRCBS Evening News and Anderson Cooper 360, and Al Jazeera: English. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute, and has lectured at dozens of universities in the U.S. and in Italy, Russia, Pakistan and Canada. Professor Lombardo is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. He has been a consultant and participated in Study Sections, Special Emphasis Panels or Working Groups of eight different Institutes of the National Institutes of Health, served as a committee member for the Institute of Medicine as well as the National Human Research Protection Advisory Committee.

Law Faculty, Kristin KalsemKristen Kalsem, Charles Hartstock Professor of Law, University of Cincinnatti
Professor Kalsem teaches in the areas of commercial law, bankruptcy, feminist legal theory, and law and literature, receiving several teaching awards since joining the faculty in 2001.  She also is co-director of the College’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice and the university’s joint-degree program in Law and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, a pioneer program for which the College of Law is nationally known. Professor Kalsem writes in the areas of women’s legal history and the cultural study of law and received the 2012 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award for her book In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature. She also writes about issues of gender, race, and class in the contexts of bankruptcy reform and consumer protection. Her scholarship has been published in such journals as the Harvard Women’s Law Journal, the Southern California Review of Law and Women’s Studies, the UCLA Women’s Law Journal, and The Michigan Journal of Race and Law.

brownTeneille Brown, Associate Professor of Law, University of Utah
Professor Brown joined the faculty in 2009 following two years as a fellow at Stanford University, where she was a post-doctoral scholar in the medical school’s Center for Biomedical Ethics and a fellow with the law school’s Center for Law and the Biosciences. Professor Brown has also been a fellow with the MacArthur Foundation’s ground breaking Law and Neuroscience Project, where she worked for the Network on Legal Decision Making. Before that, she practiced law for two years at Latham & Watkins in Washington DC, specializing in early stage medical device mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and FDA regulatory matters. She also worked on several pro bono cases, including representing asylum seekers, Gallaudet University’s student body, and the Appleseed Foundation. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Law, where she focused on medical ethics and assisted in the creation of the Pediatric Advocacy Initiative, a legal clinic designed to offer free services to patients at C.S. Mott Hospital.

TaberyJames Tabery, Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Utah
My research focuses largely on the philosophy of science and applied ethics, as well as the intersection between those domains. On the philosophy of science side, I investigate questions of causation and explanation in biology; while on the applied ethics side, I explore how the answers to those questions have ethical, legal, and social implications.



SmithLinda Smith, Professor of Law, University of Utah
Professor Smith has directed and developed the Clinical Program over the past two decades, receiving the University of Utah Distinguished Service Award in 2006 in recognition of this work. She aspires to combine students’ service with their study of lawyering skills and ethics to produce greater self-knowledge while providing representation to needy clients and governmental entities. Her clinical work began at Yale Law School where she participated in the prison legal services clinic and continued at Greater Boston Legal Services where she was the senior attorney in family law and supervised Harvard Law clinic students. Professor Smith’s scholarship spans three areas. She writes about the pedagogy of clinical legal education and civic engagement, and she focuses on the intersection of the lawyer’s skills and ethics. Her judicial clinic article was a seminal piece about supervising and teaching judicial clinic interns. More recently, she has focused on the skills of client interviewing from the perspective of conversation analysis. Her scholarly work, her teaching, and her service merge in her most recent writings about pro bono programs and the need to provide access to justice for all. Professor Smith also “walks the walk” by providing brief advice and full representation in challenging family law cases on a pro bono basis.

Candace-Gibson_150pxCandace Gibson is a Law Students for Reproductive Justice Second Year Fellow at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH).  She advances NLIRH’s national policy agenda on sexual and reproductive health related disparities by providing legislative and legal research and analysis, implementing short- and long-term policy and programmatic projects, and working with stakeholder communities under the Managing Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs. Candace received her J.D. from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law in May 2012. Prior to law school, she worked as a program coordinator at Comunidades Unidas, a nonprofit organization in Utah committed to eliminating health disparities in racial/ethnic and refugee communities.


Cosponsored by The Utah chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice (U-LSRJ)


February 28, 2014
8:00 am - 11:45 pm
Event Categories:


S. J. Quinney College of Law
383 South University St
Salt Lake City, UT 84112 United States