Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights


This course will provide you with an overview of the field of reproductive health and rights and help you develop the skills required to analyze, evaluate and advocate for evidence-based reproductive health policy. We will focus primarily on the aspects of reproductive health that relate to fertility control: unintended pregnancy, contraception and abortion. The struggle to gain control over fertility has a controversial history, both in the United States and around the world, and is no less divisive in today’s political and social climate.

Like many other policy areas you will encounter during your time at the LBJ School, the reproductive health and rights policies we see today have been shaped by multiple disciplinary perspectives and a wide variety of players and stakeholders. To become adept at evaluating, designing and arguing for responsible and just reproductive health policy, you must build a strong foundation of knowledge and develop the skills necessary to apply and communicate that knowledge. This class is designed to help you to do both those things.

By the end of the semester you will have had the opportunity to:

Understand the evolution of family planning programs and develop an appreciation of the inequities ingrained in historical trajectory of reproductive health policies.
Get comfortable with the biological processes underpinning human capacity for reproduction and fertility control.
Become familiar with the most important research in key reproductive health and rights topic areas and develop in-depth knowledge of your particular area of interest.
Critique and synthesize evidence to evaluate reproductive health policies and apply your knowledge to make policy recommendations.
Practice writing effectively on a reproductive health issue, both for a policy audience and for the general public.
Master the art of testimony––i.e. presenting oral arguments in favor of or against a policy under legislative or judicial consideration––to design and deliver a concise, compelling and scientifically supported case for your point of view.

The course format will be weekly seminars involving a mix of mini-lectures, discussion of assigned readings, policy analysis exercises and presentations from guest speakers.