Limitations of abortion law at center of Dec.1 symposium at University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

For 15 years, Willie Parker has walked past picketers who threaten his life as he heads into his clinic to provide abortions in the Deep South. Parker’s story is chronicled in his memoir, “Life’s Work,” and in the 2016 documentary “Trapped,” which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. An outspoken advocate for reproductive justice, Parker — who is also a conservative Christian — shares his story of why he chooses to perform abortions in academic settings across the country.

Parker will visit the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law on Dec.1 to deliver the keynote address at a symposium titled “Medical and Legal Aspects of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) Laws.”

Willie Parker. Courtesy photo,

The symposium will bring together medical, legal and ethical perspectives on the deeply divisive issues raised by TRAP laws.

“Whatever your position on abortion, it is important to understand how different types of legal restrictions affect physicians and their patients,” said Leslie Francis, director of the Center for Law and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, who organized the event.

 TRAP laws have proliferated in many states. These laws impose special requirements on abortion providers, including getting informed consent, equipment, inspections, fetal protection and even procedures. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt that TRAP laws are unconstitutional if they impose unreasonable burdens on women’s health without offsetting benefits supported by evidence.

Sessions at the Dec.1 event will include effects on patient care and medical management; effects on patients and their experiences of reproductive care; disparities and access to care; and political, educational and legal responses to these laws.

The event is free and open to the public. It will be held on the sixth floor of the S.J. Quinney College of Law, 383 South University Street, Salt Lake City.  The event will be streamed live and recorded on the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law YouTube channel »

Parkeran obstetrician/gynecologist who has spent the past several years as an abortion provider in the clinics most hard hit by TRAP laws in Alabama and Mississippi, will speak over the lunch hour, at 11:45 a.m.  Other sessions throughout the day include:



8:30-9:00 p.m.  Welcome; continental breakfast available

9:00-10:15 a.m. – The impact of TRAP laws on physicians and the care they give. Moderator:  Kirtly P. Jones. Participants: Judith Daar, Matthew Reeves

10:15-10:30 a.m. – Break

10:30-11:45 a.m. – The impact of TRAP laws on patients and their experiences of care. Moderator: Margaret P. Battin. Participants:  Bret Asbury, Carol Sanger

11:45-1:00 p.m. – Lunch, book sales and keynote. Keynote:  Willie Parker

1:15-2:30 p.m. – TRAP laws, informed consent and access to care. Moderator: Leslie Francis.  Participants: Teneille Brown, Anne Davis

2:30-2:45 p.m. – Break

2:45-4:00 p.m. – Political and legal responses. Moderator: Laura Kessler. Panelists: Steven Morrison, David Turok


Participant biographies

Bret Asbury, associate dean for faculty research and associate professor of law, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law.
Recent publications include: Fostering Informed Choice: Alleviating the Trauma of Genetic Abortions, 25 CORNELL J.L. & PUB. POL’Y 293 (2015); “Backdoor to Eugenics”?: The Risks of Prenatal Diagnosis for Poor, Black Women, 23 DUKE J. GEN. L. & POL’Y 1 (2015).

Margaret P. Battin, distinguished professor of philosophy and adjunct professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities, University of Utah.
Recent publications include “Reproductive Control for Men: For Men?” Oxford Handbook of Reproductive Ethics, Leslie Francis, ed., Oxford University Press 2017, pp. 325-356; The Ethics of Suicide: Historical Sources, Oxford University Press 2015.

Teneille Brown, professor of law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.
Recent publications include “Medical Futility and Religious Free Exercise,” First Amendment Law Review 15, no. 3; “Denying Death,” 57 Ariz. L. Rev. 977 (2015).

Judith Daar, visiting professor, UCI Law School, and clinical professor of medicine, UCI School of Medicine. Chair, ethics committee, American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
Recent publications include The New Eugenics: Selective Breeding in an Era of Reproductive Technologies, Yale University Press 2017; Reproductive Technologies and the Law, Lexis/Nexis 2013.

Anne Davis, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Columbia University and consulting medical director of Physicians for Reproductive Health.
Dr. Davis directs second trimester surgical abortion services at Columbia and testified in an Alabama court in a successful challenge against TRAP laws.

Leslie Francis, distinguished Alfred C. Emery professor of law and distinguished professor of philosophy, University of Utah.
Recent publications include The Oxford Handbook of Reproductive Ethics, ed., 2017.

Kirtly Parker Jones, professor emerita of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Utah, where she has had an academic appointment for the past 33 years. Her clinical and research interests include contraception and family planning, advanced reproductive technology, and menopause. She has been a member of the National Medical Committee for Planned Parenthood and is past Chair of the Association of Reproductive Professionals.

Laura Kessler, professor of law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. She specializes in family law, employment discrimination law, and feminism and legal theory.
Her most recent article, “‘A Sordid Case’: Stump v. Sparkman, Judicial Immunity, and the Other Side of Reproductive Rights,” presents a novel historical account of the sterilization case in which judges were declared absolutely immune from liability for official judicial acts, even malicious ones.

Steven Morrison, assistant professor of law, University of North Dakota School of Law.
Recent publications include “Personhood Amendments after Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt,” Case Western Law Review, forthcoming.

Matthew Reeves, medical director for the National Abortion Federation (NAF), adjunct associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Dr. Reeves has researched many important advances in abortion and contraceptive care. His most recent publication investigates a novel copper IUD.

Carol Sanger, Barbara Aronstein Black professor of law, Columbia Law School.
Recent publications include About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in Twenty-First-Century America. Harvard University Press 2017.

David Turok, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Utah.
As the director of surgical services at Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, Turok has trained dozens of Utah physicians in abortion care. He directs the HER (Highly Effective Reversible) Salt Lake Contraceptive Initiative, which is documenting the social and medical effects of 7,000 Salt Lake County women who received free contraception at local Planned Parenthood clinics.