Health, Equity and Law after Dobbs

Two-day interdisciplinary conference brings together experts to discuss the impact of the Supreme Court case and potential solutions for advancing reproductive health and justice

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The recent Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which has the potential to severely restrict access to abortion across the United States, has sparked renewed interest in the intersections of health, equity, and law. To explore these important issues, the Washington College of Law Health Law and Policy Program, in conjunction with the American University Center on Health Risk and Society, the George Washington University School of Law, and the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, hosted the conference “Health, Equity, and Law After Dobbs.” This timely conference brought together experts on reproductive rights, health, and justice from across disciplines to examine the far-reaching effects of the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Here at AUWCL, our passion for health equity inspires our dedication to health law," said Asha Scielzo, director of the Health Law and Policy Program at AUWCL. "We are thrilled by the success of this conference and look forward to future opportunities to collaborate across disciplines.”

More than 350 participants each day attended the two-day event – split between WCL and GW Law School – in-person and online, including students, faculty, practitioners, advocates, media, and members of the public from around the country. Speakers with expertise in law, medicine, public health, economics, and sociology engaged in enriching interdisciplinary conversations covering topics such as the impact of restrictive abortion laws on marginalized communities, the role of the legal system in advancing reproductive justice, and the importance of community organizing and grassroots activism in the fight for reproductive rights.

Throughout the conference, there was a strong emphasis on the need for collaboration and coalition-building across various sectors and movements. Speakers stressed the importance of working across traditional divides, such as the split between mainstream reproductive rights organizations and those focused on the needs of marginalized communities, to create a more powerful and effective movement for reproductive justice.

“This incredible conference was a powerful reminder of the urgent need for action in the face of the ongoing assault on reproductive rights in the United States,” said Maya Manian, professor of law and faculty director of the Health Law and Policy Program. “It was extremely productive because we need all segments of, not only academia but practitioners, lawyers, and advocates working together to get us to a place where we can achieve more reproductive health equity.”