New class on reproduction for Fall 2022 semester

| Staff Writer

Washington University now offers “The Politics of Reproduction,” a new course focusing on reproductive issues, for the Fall 2022 Semester.

Students in the interdisciplinary 1.5 credit class meet every Monday or participate through asynchronous course modules to discuss “historical, medical, legal, and sociocultural” topics that pertain to bodily autonomy, social justice, and the reproductive process. Each session is joined by a new guest speaker, including University-affiliated and external experts.

The course was added in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, declaring that abortion was not a federally protected right. 

Dr. Susan Appleton, Professor of Law and a nationally acclaimed expert in feminist and family law theory, is one of the lecturers for the course. Appleton’s lecture “The Legal Landscape — Past, Present, and Future” will explain the broader contexts of family law, both before and after the 2022 Dobbs decision.

According to Appleton, the Dobbs ruling will have implications beyond access to abortion.

“[The consequences of the Dobbs ruling] could be [restrictions on] sexual liberty, marriage equality, contraception, [and] interracial marriage,” Appleton said. 

“These concerns are very real, and I think that the other message is to get active in state and local politics because courts are not going to save us,” she said.

Junior Zoe Chase is a student in the course who is majoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and she said she’s eager to hear from the guest experts.

“While I know a lot about reproductive health, I really wanted to learn more from scholars with more nuanced and educated perspectives — to feel more connected to the world around me,” Chase said. 

Senior Charlie Yeldham, a Political Science and Education double-major in the course, said he hopes that “in the light of the Dobbs ruling, everyone takes the time to consider others’ perspectives on this issue and develop their political positions accordingly.” 

“In my opinion, acknowledging the limitations of your personal viewpoint is crucial to having an informed stance,” Yeldham said.

There have been two lectures in the course to date, but students are still able to register for the class as the University has extended the add/drop deadline to encourage more student registration. While Sept. 8 is the general add/drop deadline, “The Politics of Reproduction” can be dropped up until Nov. 18. 

While students are excited for this course, many believe that the University has a broader responsibility to the WashU community and to the broader St. Louis community. 

“WashU needs to make a public statement in support of reproductive freedom,” Chase said. “To stand by idly and say nothing while half of the student body deals with the consequences of this decision is not an option.”

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