The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health spotlights the entanglement of three form of state reproductive violence—abortion bans, criminalization of pregnancy, and forced family separation. Although the mainstream reproductive rights movement historically has failed to recognize this entanglement, Dobbs makes clear a right-wing strategy of reproductive control that includes not only abortion laws that compel pregnant people to give birth, but also a broader regulation of pregnancy and parenting that targets the most politically marginalized people for punishment. Attending to Black women’s experiences of reproductive violence and to the reproductive justice framework Black feminists developed reveals the intersectional politics underlying this entanglement, as well as political strategies for reproductive liberation.
Dorothy Roberts is the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and George A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School, where she is the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights. She is also the founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science, and Society. An internationally acclaimed scholar, public intellectual, and social justice advocate, she has written and lectured extensively on race, gender, and class inequities in U.S. institutions and has been a leader in transforming public thinking and policy on reproductive freedom, child welfare, and bioethics. She is the author of the award-winning Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997/Vintage, 2017); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2001); Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century (The New Press, 2011), and Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families—and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World (Basic Books, 2022), as well as more than 100 articles and book chapters, including “Race” in the 1619 Project book.
Roberts has served on the boards of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Center for Genetics and Society, Juvenile Law Center, and National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, and her work has been supported by fellowships from American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Fulbright Program, Harvard Program in Ethics and the Professions, Stanford Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and Northwestern Institute for Policy Research. Recent recognitions of her work include election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, Rutgers University-Newark Honorary Doctor of Law Degree, Juvenile Law Center Leadership Prize, Abortion Liberation Fund of PA Rosie Jimenez Award, New Voices for Reproductive Justice Voice of Vision Award, Society of Family Planning Lifetime Achievement Award, and American Psychiatric Association Solomon Carter Fuller Award.
Reception to follow at Dodds Atrium 6:30-8:00 pm