Moving Forward from Dobbs (808V)

Dobbs creates a host of complicated and unknown legal and policy issues for philanthropies that support research, communications, and policy development, among other support. These issues include both civil and criminal matters. The Client is a Foundation that has invested millions of dollars over several years to support a range of reproductive health organizations throughout the United States, and is a particularly visible potential target for litigation attacks. The Foundation needs concrete guidance on how to assist existing and future grantees in ways that align with its mission, while minimizing liability for itself, its officers and directors, and for the organizations it supports.

This practicum will focus its legal/policy analysis on one to three discrete issues arising from the consequences of the Dobbs decision. The types of criminal law issues that might be studied and briefed in the practicum include: (1) accomplice liability incurred by funders that support abortion providers in states where abortion has become largely illegal, including risks incurred by aiding (2) travel to states that permit abortion; (2) liability for providing information/materials in support of medically assisted abortion to people who reside within states that are now criminalizing or banning abortions; (4) personal criminal exposure to the decision-makers at the Foundation, including officers, directors, and management staff; (5) regulatory compliance issues around the supervision of funded projects where the scope of the work done by grantees may morph over time. Further, the practicum will identify emerging areas of greatest substantive need while assessing developing and shifting legal issues as the law develops in this area, as well as potential corporate or governance best practices to minimize criminal and/or civil legal risk. A collaborative decision between the Client and the faculty supervisors will determine the final topics to be researched in the practicum.

Given the need to get analysis and advice to the Client as soon as possible, it is possible that rather than a single deliverable, the policy lab would produce multiple products that could be shared with the Client. It is anticipated that the legal analysis will be shared, where appropriate, with other philanthropies that face similar legal risks in the reproductive health space. Before any legal analysis or findings are shared, the Client shall approve the publication of such materials. Elements used in grading: Attendance, Class Participation, Written Assignments, Final Paper.

Interested students should complete the policy lab application available on the SLS Registrar website at and email by September 15, 2022 at 5:00 PM with (1) resume; (2) transcript; and (3) short (one page) statement of interest/experience in the topic of the policy lab.

Course Catalogue