TN Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice will host symposium examining abortion law, civil rights

The University of Tennessee College of Law will host a day-long symposium on March 9 that examines the consequences of making abortion illegal in the United States.

The event features University of California Davis School of Law Professor Mary Ziegler, an expert on the law, history, and politics of reproduction, health care, and conservatism in the United States from 1945 to the present. Ziegler’s presentation, scheduled for noon, will focus on what it means to lose a constitutional right.

The event, organized and sponsored by law students who edit the college’s Tennessee Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice, is intended to spur conversation about the shifting legal landscape surrounding civil rights. Organizers Vada Newman and Breana Query said students involved with the journal settled on the topic for the symposium in response to the June 2022 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Their goal is to discuss the aftermath for communities and examine how the opinion has changed the lives of those impacted, Newman said.

Other presentations throughout the day include the following:

・Dobbs and the Constitution, 9:30 a.m. – 10 30 a.m. 

Featuring Stetson University Professor James Hart, University of Pennsylvania Law and History Professor Serena Mayeri, and University of Tennessee Law Professor Val Vojdik.

This panel will discuss the constitution foundation of the cases of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey and how the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision overruled the established precedent. Panelists will examine the impact of the Dobbs case on constitutional law and compare other countries’ approaches to reproductive rights.

・Access to Reproductive Care Post-Dobbs, 10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Featuring Wake Forest University Law Professor Meghan Boone, Drexel University Law Professor David Cohen and University of Colorado Professor and Dr. Leilah Zahedi- Spung.

As states confront what the Dobbs decision will mean for their state laws, shield bills have been enacted to protect against the threat of extra territorial prosecution. This panel will discuss these bills along with other issues concerning reproductive care that have emerged following Dobbs.

・The Impact of Dobbs on Marginalized Communities, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Featuring University of Tennessee Law Professors Wendy Bach and Teri Baxter, Southern Methodist University Law Professor Seema Mohapatra and Willamette Law Professor Robin Maril.

This panel will highlight the intersectionality of reproductive freedom and the impact of access to reproductive care on marginalized communities.

・Dobbs in Tennessee, 2:45 – 3:45 p.m.

Featuring Tennessee State Rep. Gloria Johnson, Standing Together Tennessee founder Chloe Akers, Tennessee Freedom Circle board member Tyler Yarbro and ACLU-TN Legal Director Stella Yarbrough.

Tennessee has a trigger ban that went into effect immediately after the Dobbs decision was announced. The abortion ban does not include exceptions, only affirmative defenses. This panel will discuss the devastating impact of this law and highlight the organizations that are assisting residents in navigating this unprecedented situation.


The event takes place March 9, beginning at 9 a.m. at the College of Law, 1505 Cumberland Ave., Room 132. Registration is required. Those seeking CLE credit, 5.75 hours are available, may register here. Others should register via this link.

Additional details about the event speakers and their presentations can be found here.