The Ashbel Smith Building, affectionately known as “Old Red,” was the first building at UTMB and frequent host of the Reproductive Ethics Conference.

The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Institute for Bioethics & Health Humanities maintains a strong commitment to addressing issues in clinical practice and biomedical research from the perspectives of ethics and law. Through a yearly Reproductive Ethics Conference, they have taken on the charge of championing reproductive rights.

In their most recent 2022 conference, they explored the topic of legislation currently and imminently limiting abortion access. “What makes this conference unique is that it is, to our knowledge, the only ongoing reproductive ethics conference in the US,” says Dr. Lisa Campo-Engelstein, Director of the Institute for Bioethics & Health Humanities and the conference organizer. “Each year we draw a national and international audience, bringing together people from various backgrounds including clinical (doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas), academic (especially from the humanities and social sciences), and policy and advocacy. This multidisciplinary audience engenders a rich and robust discussion.”

By bringing together scholars and professionals across specialties, the Reproductive Ethics Conference seeks to facilitate timely and vigorous discussions in service of reproductive rights. Past conferences have explored a variety of topics in reproductive ethics through lectures and panels including, “Abortion: Policy and Narrative,” “Surrogacy and Sex Selection,” and “Negotiating Religion and Reproduction.”

Through the Reproductive Ethics Conference, the UTMB Institute for Bioethics & Health Humanities is spearheading an innovative and cross-disciplinary approach to addressing reproductive rights. The Institute is in the midst of planning the seventh annual Reproductive Ethics Conference, to be held in January 2023. Further details and information on how to register for the conference can be found on the Institute for Bioethics & Health Humanities website.

Has ethics made a difference at your institution over time? Contact Alexis Jimenez Maldonado, alexismaldonado@fas.harvard.edu, with ideas for forthcoming Spotlights.

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