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Roe at 40 The Controversy Continues

November 7-8, 2013
Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall

The fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade has generated substantial scholarly and media efforts to evaluate the decision and its continuing impact.  "Roe at 40 – The Controversy Continues," a symposium to be held on November 7-8, 2013, at Washington and Lee University School of Law, will contribute to the ongoing debate about the significance of the Roe decision.

Roe did not resolve the abortion controversy, which continues with unabated passion on both sides of the issue.  A distinguishing feature of the "Roe at 40" Symposium will be its inclusions of varying perspectives on abortion.  There will be two keynote addresses, one by a pro-choice advocate and the other by a pro-life advocate.  Panel participants have also been selected to ensure a balanced presentation.  Balance is also reflected in the Symposium’s sponsors: ACLU of Virginia, the Frances Lewis Law Center of Washington and Lee University, the Provost's Office of Washington and Lee University, University Faculty for Life, Virginia NOW, and the Washington and Lee Law Review.

The Symposium’s commitment to balance is not intended to suggest that advocates should give up their principled stances or that abortion is an issue for which compromise can be readily accomplished.  Rather, the motivating concept is that an academic conference should encourage a free and full exchange of views and that this goal is possible even for an issue as contentious as abortion.  It is not expected that attendees will likely change their views, but it is hoped that they will at least better understand their opponents.  This increased insight will hopefully lead to productive future dialogue.

The Symposium was made possible by the efforts and financial support of the Frances Lewis Law Center, the Provost's Office of Washington and Lee University, University Faculty for Life, and the Washington and Lee Law Review. To promote the Symposium’s ongoing impact on the abortion debate, the Washington and Lee Law Review has committed to publish all articles prepared for the event. 


Registration is closed.

Symposium Schedule

Thursday, Nov. 7

3:15 pm: Welcome

3:30 pm - 5:00 pm: Session 1

  1. Clarke Forsythe: The Medical Premise at the Foundation of Roe v. Wade & Its Implications for Women’s Health
  2. David Garrow:  What Roe v. Wade Meant in 1973
  3. Sam Calhoun: Justice Lewis F. Powell’s Baffling Vote in Roe v. Wade
  4. Mary Ziegler: Beyond Backlash: Legal History, Polarization, and Roe v. Wade

5:00 pm – 5:15 pm: Break

5:15 pm - 6:45 pm: Session 2

  1. Richard Myers: Re-Reading Roe v. Wade
  2. Pamela Bridgewater: Probing Justice: Pursuit of Reproductive Justice and Sexual Freedom During Roe’s Retrenchment Era
  3. Tom Molony: Roe, Casey, and Sex-Selection Abortion Bans
  4. Priscilla Smith: The Purpose of Casey’s Purpose Prong—Protecting Women’s Equal Right to Liberty


Friday, Nov. 8


9:00 am - 10:30 am: Session 3

  1. Caroline Corbin: Abortion Distortions
  2. Teresa Collett: Does Fetal Pain Matter Constitutionally?
  3. Kathy Greenier: Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers and the Ongoing War Against Women’s Health in Virginia
  4. Randy Beck: Overcoming Barriers to the Protection of Viable Fetuses

10:30 am – 10:45 am: Break

10:45 am – 12:15 pm: Keynote Addresses

  1. Caitlin Borgmann: Roe v. Wade at 40: Untying the Moral Knot of Abortion
  2. Michael Paulsen: The Insistent Analogy to Slavery

12:15 pm – 1:30 pm: Lunch

1:30 pm - 3:00 pm: Session 5

  1. Maya Manian: The Consequences of Abortion Restrictions for Women’s Healthcare
  2. Lynne Marie Kohm: Roe’s Effect on Family Law
  3. Robin Wilson/Ryan Hrobak: Emergency Contraceptives or Abortion-Inducing Drugs? Empowering Women to Decide for Themselves
  4. James Mahon: Innocent Burdens: On Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion”

3:00 pm - 3:15 pm: Closing Remarks


Keynote Speakers

borgmann.jpg Caitlin Borgmann is a Professor of Law at CUNY School of Law. She was a 2012-13 Senior Fellow at the Columbia Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. Her scholarship focuses on the respective roles and authority of the courts and the legislatures in protecting constitutional rights, and on the role and judicial treatment of fact-finding in constitutional rights cases. She has also written extensively about reproductive rights. 


Michael Paulsen is a Distinguished University Chair and Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Professor Paulsen is among the nation’s leading scholars of constitutional interpretation, and his publications include articles in the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, Chicago Law Review, NYU Law Review, Texas Law Review, California Law Review, and the Georgetown Law Journal, among many others.

Confirmed Panelists

  • Randy Beck (Justice Thomas O. Marshall Chair of Constitutional Law, University of Georgia)
  • Pamela Bridgewater (Professor of Law, American University, Washington College of Law)
  • Sam Calhoun (Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University)
  • Teresa Collett (Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas)
  • Caroline Corbin (Professor of Law, University of Miami)
  • Clarke Forsythe (Senior Counsel, Americans United for Life)
  • David Garrow (Research Professor of History and Law, University of Pittsburgh)
  • Kathy Greenier (Director, Reproductive Freedom Project, ACLU of Virginia)
  • Ryan Hrobak (J.D. Candidate 2014, Washington and Lee University)
  • Lynne Marie Kohm (John Brown McCarty Professor of Family Law, Regent University)
  • James E. Mahon (Professor of Philosophy, Washington and Lee University)
  • Maya Manian (Professor of Law, University of San Francisco)
  • Tom Molony (Associate Professor of Law, Elon University)
  • Richard Myers (Professor of Law, Ave Maria School of Law)
  • Priscilla Smith (Associate Research Scholar in Law and Senior Fellow in the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at the Yale Information Society Project)
  • Robin Fretwell Wilson (Roger and Stevie Joslin Professor of Law, University of Illinois)
  • Mary Ziegler (Assistant Professor of Law, Florida State University) 

Contact Information

For more information, contact:

Lara Gass, Symposium Editor, Washington and Lee Law Review, (901)361-5825, gass.l@law.wlu.edu

Thomas Short, Editor-in-Chief, Washington and Lee Law Review, (720)933-9378, short.t@law.wlu.edu