Seema Mohapatra

Full-time faculty

MD Anderson Foundation Endowed Professor in Health Law and Professor of Law


Seema Mohapatra is a leading expert in health law and bioethics and has been teaching for over fifteen years. Mohapatra’s research centers around health care equity, the intersection of biosciences and the law, assisted reproduction and surrogacy, reproductive justice, and public health law. Professor Mohapatra is a tenured full professor and holds the M.D. Anderson Foundation Endowed Professorship in Health Law at SMU Dedman School of Law. Her work has been published in various top law reviews, including the Emory Law Journal, the University of Colorado Law Review, the Harvard Law and Policy Review, and the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics, and numerous peer reviewed journals, such as Hastings Center Report, Journal of the American Medical Association, and the American Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics.

Professor Mohapatra is the co-editor of “Feminist Judgments: Health Law Rewritten” (with Lindsay F. Wiley) (2022, Cambridge University Press). She is also a co-author of the third edition of the textbook “Reproductive Technologies and the Law” (with Judith Daar, I. Glenn Cohen, and Sonia Suter) (2022, Carolina Academic Press). She serves on the Board of Directors of American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics and the nonprofit Population Connection, and the Ethics Advisory Committee at the UNMC Global Center for Health Security. She also co-chairs the Health Justice: Engaging Critical Perspectives in Health Law and Policy Initiative, with Brietta Clark, Lindsay Wiley, and Ruqaiijah Yearby.

Professor Mohapatra is a frequent national speaker and is often consulted by the media about a wide variety of health law and bioethical topics. Her work has been featured in numerous national publications such as The Atlantic, The New York Times, Bloomberg News, and she is often on numerous local and national television and radio stations, including CNN and National Public Radio.

Upon graduation from law school, she practiced transactional health law and compliance at two large firms in Chicago, Sidley & Austin and Foley & Lardner. Professor Mohapatra earned a J.D. degree from Northwestern University School of Law and has a master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Chronic Disease Epidemiology from Yale University. She earned a bachelor of arts in Natural Sciences (with a minor in Women's Studies) from Johns Hopkins University.

Areas of Expertise

  • Bioethics
  • Torts
  • Family Law
  • Health Care
  • Health Law


B.A., Johns Hopkins University
M.P.H., Yale University 
J.D., Northwestern Pritzker School of Law


Critical Race Theory
Race, Health & Justice


Structural Discrimination in Pandemic Policy: Essential Protections for Essential Workers, 50 Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 1 (2022) (co-authored)

Treating Workers as Essential Too: An Ethical Framework for Public Health Interventions to Prevent and Control COVID-19 Infections among Meat-processing Facility Workers and Their Communities in the United States, 19 Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 2 (2022) (co-authored)

Allocation of Opportunities to Participate in Clinical Trials during the Covid-19 Pandemic and Other Public Health Emergencies, 52 The Hastings Center Report 1 (2022) (co-authored)

Systemic Racism, the Government’s Pandemic Response, and Racial Inequities in COVID-19, 70 Emory Law Journal 7 (2021) (with Ruqaiijah Yearby)

Health Justice Strategies to Combat the Pandemic: Eliminating Discrimination, Poverty, and Health Disparities During and After COVID-19, 19 Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics 122 (2020) (co-authored)

COVID-19 and the Conundrum of Mask Requirements, 77 Washington and Lee Law Review Online (2020) (with Robert Gatter)

Resolving Tensions Between Disability Rights Law and COVID-19 Mask Policies, 80 Maryland Law Review Online 1 (2022) (co-authored)

Feminist Perspectives in Health Law, 47 Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics S4 (2019) (with Lindsay F. Wiley)

Assisted Reproduction Inequality and Marriage Equality, 92 Chicago-Kent Law Review 87 (2017)

Politically Correct Eugenics, 12 Florida International University Law Review 51 (2016)

Use of Facial Recognition Technology for Medical Purposes: Balancing Privacy with Innovation, 43 Pepperdine Law Review 1017 (2016)

Adopting an International Convention on Surrogacy -- A Lesson from Intercountry Adoption, 13 Loyola University Chicago International Law Review 25 (2015)

Time to Lift the Veil of Inequality in Health Care Coverage: Using Corporate Law to Defend the Affordable Care Act’s Reproductive Health Care Mandate, 50 Wake Forest Law Review 137 (2015)

Book Chapters

The Myth of “Anonymous” Gamete Donation in the Age of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing, in CONSUMER GENETIC TECHNOLOGIES: ETHICAL AND LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS (Cambridge University Press 2021)

Commentary on In the Matter of the Parentage of a Child by T.J.S. and A.L.S., FEMINIST JUDGMENTS: REWRITTEN FAMILY LAW OPINIONS (Cambridge University Press 2020) (with Melanie B. Jacobs)

States of Confusion: Regulation of Surrogacy in the United Statesin COMMODIFICATION OF THE HUMAN BODY: A CANNIBAL MARKET (J.D. Rainhorn & S. El Boudamoussi eds. 2015)

A Race to the Bottom?: The Need for International Regulation of the Rapidly Growing Global Surrogacy Market, in GLOBALIZATION AND GESTATIONAL SURROGACY IN INDIA (Lexington Books 2015)

Privacy of Electronic Health Information, E-Health And Telemedicine, a Law Journal Press Treatise (2004) (with Karen Dunlop and Laura Cole)

Other Publications

An Era of Rights Retractions: Dobbs as a Case in Point, SMU Dedman School of Law (2023)
SMU Repository

Media, quoted in The Post-Roe Battleground for Abortion Pills Will Be Your Mailbox (May 2022)

Ms. Magazine, Op-ed, The Supreme Court Revealed a Lack of Respect for Precedent and Women's Health--and it Won't Stop There (May 2022), Interview, Draft Decision on Abortion Could Threaten Birth Control, Too (May 2022)

Business Insiderquoted in Some birth control options could be banned if they are seen as abortion methods rather than pregnancy prevention, experts say (May 2022)

Business Insiderquoted in It may soon be harder to access medications used in miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies because they're also used to treat abortions (May 2022)

Business Insiderquoted in Private reproduction decisions like IVF and contraception could be at risk if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, experts say (May 2022)

Salonquoted in Many states' abortion bans have life-saving "exceptions."  Experts doubt they will work as intended." (May 2022)

News Channel 2 WKTV (CBS)quoted in A Roe v. Wade reversal could put fertility clinics at the center of the abortion fight (May 2022)

WFAA 8 (ABC)quoted in Overturning Roe v. Wade could impact future legality of morning-after pill and IVF, Texas law professors say (May 2022)

Salonquoted in How abortion "trigger laws" could inadvertently impede fertility treatments (May 2022)

WIRED.comquoted in The Ramifications of Roe v. Wade's Fall Won't Stop At Abortion Bans (May 2022)

The Skimm, quoted in What Happens If The Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade? (May 2022)

Texas Standardquoted in Oklahoma's governor has signed a Texas-style abortion ban. Here's how it could affect Texas (May 2022)

Bloomberg Lawquoted in Alito Draft Would Allow for Sweeping State Action on Abortion (May 2022)

Bloomberg Lawquoted in Biden Urges Enshrining Roe into Law but Lacks Votes to Do It (1) (May 2022)

Houston Public Media.orgquoted in After leaked draft of Supreme Court opinion, abortion-rights supporters brace for total ban in Texas (May 2022)

Texas Standardquoted in Breaking down the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on Roe v. Wade, and what it could mean for Texans (May 2022)

Spectrum News, quoted in Interview: Florida Law Professor Seema Mohapatra discusses significance of Roe v. Wade draft opinion (May 2022)