Feb. 28 Symposium to Focus on Eugenics, the ‘Other Side’ of Reproductive Rights

On Friday, February 28, beginning at 8:00 a.m., the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law will host a symposium titled The Other Side of Reproductive Rights: The Untold Story and Ethics of Modern Eugenics. The half-day event will include a reading of Stumped, a one-act play by Debora Threedy, a playwright and professor at the College of Law. The symposium will also include scholarly presentations and panel discussions.

“When people think of reproductive rights, what usually comes to mind is the debate over the government’s regulation of abortion,” Threedy explained. “This symposium focuses on the ‘other side’ of reproductive rights, instances where the government has stepped in to limit the ability of certain classes of people to have children. A century ago, this was called ‘eugenics,’ which means ‘good breeding.’ This symposium seeks to acknowledge the emotional, as well as the rational and ethical, aspects of the debate. The play, Stumped, was inspired by Stump v. Sparkman, one of the leading cases involving eugenics. In the play, a young woman law student struggles to reconcile the case with her own sense of morality.”

The reading of Stumped will be followed by two panels. The first will focus on the play, the history of the case, and the broader story of eugenics in American law from an ethical and legal perspective. The second will involve a discussion on the ethical challenges presented by modern day eugenics, such as fetal genetic screening or the rights of the disabled to have children.

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.

The Other Side of Reproductive Rights: The Untold Story and Ethics of Modern Eugenics symposium will be held on Friday, February 28 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the Sutherland Moot Courtroom at the College of Law. Admission is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Complimentary continental breakfast and lunch will be provided to attendees. For more information, call 801-585-3479.

Three hours of CLE credit available (applied for).