Seema Mohapatra

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

Full-time faculty


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.

Area 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


2022 Lowe, A. Dineen, K., & Mohapatra, S (2022). Structural Discrimination in Pandemic Policy: Essential Protections for Essential Workers. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 50(1), 67-75. doi: 10.1017/jme.2022.10

2022 Kelly K. Dineen, Abigail Lowe, Nancy E. Kass, Lisa M. Lee, Matthew K. Wynia, Teck Chuan Voo, Seema Mohapatra, Rachel Lookadoo, Athena K. Ramos, Jocelyn J. Herstein, Sara Donovan, James V. Lawler, John J. Lowe, Shelly Schwedhelm & Nneka O. Sederstrom, Treating Workers as Essential Too: an Ethical Framework for Public Health Interventions to Prevent and Control COVID-19 Infections among Meat-processing Facilty Workers and Their Communities in the United States, Bioethical Inquiry (2022)

2022 Spector-Bagdady, Kayte; Lynch, Holly Fernandez; Bierer, Barbara E; Gelinas, Luke; Hull, Sara Chandros; Magnus, David; Meyer Michelle N; Sharp, Richard R; Sugarman, Jerry; Wilfond, Benjamin S; Yearby, Ruqaiijah; Mohapatra, Seema, Allocation of Opportunities to Participate in Clinical Trials during the Covid-19 Pandemic and Other Public Health Emergencies, ISSN: 0093-0334, 1552-146X; DOI: 10.1002/hast.1297

2021 Ruqaiijah Yearby and Seema Mohapatra, Systemic Racism, The Government’s Pandemic Response, and Racial Inequities in COVID-19, Emory Law Journal 

2021 Passports of Privilege, American University Law Review (Invited symposium piece)

2021 Yvonne Dutton and Seema MohapatraCOVID-19 and Law Teaching: Guidance on Developing an Asynchronous Online Course for Law Students, St. Louis University Law Journal (Special Volume on Teaching)

2020 Emily Benfer, Seema Mohapatra, Lindsay Wiley, and Ruqaiijah Yearby, Health Justice Strategies to Combat the Pandemic: Eliminating Discrimination, Poverty, and Health Inequities During and After COVID-19, 19 Yale Journal Health Policy, Law, And Ethics 125-171 

2020 Robert Gatter and Seema MohapatraCOVID-19 and the Conundrum of Mask Requirements, Washington and Lee Law Review Online, Vol. 77

2020 Elizabeth Pendo, Robert Gatter, and Seema MohapatraResolving Tensions Between Disability Rights Law and COVID-19 Mask Policies, 80 Maryland Law Review Online 12019 Law in the Time of Zika: Disability Rights and Reproductive Justice Collide, 84 Brooklyn Law Review 325

2019 Seema Mohapatra and Lindsay F. Wiley, Feminist Perspectives in Health Law, Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 47(4_suppl):103-115

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

2016 Politically Correct Eugenics, 12 Florida International University Law Review 1 (Invited Symposium Submission)

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

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

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 False Framings: The Co-Opting of Sex-Selection by The Anti-Abortion Movement, Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (Invited Commentary)

2014 Using Egg Freezing for Non-Medical Reasons: Fertility Insurance or False Hope?, 8 Harvard Law and Policy Review 381

2014 Fertility Preservation for Medical Reasons and Reproductive Justice, 30 Harvard Journal on Racial and Ethnic Justice 193

2013 Examining Global Legal Responses to Prenatal Gender Identification and Sex Selection: A Bioethical Analysis, 13 Nevada Law Journal 690

2013 Cutting the Cord from Private Cord Blood Banking: Encouraging Compensation for Public Cord Blood Donations, 84 University of Colorado Law Review 944

2012 Stateless Babies and Adoption Scams: A Bioethical Analysis of Commercial Surrogacy, 30 Berkeley Journal of International Law 412

2012 Achieving Reproductive Justice in The International Surrogacy Market, Annals of Health Law 21: 191

2011 Unshackling Addiction: A Public Health Approach to Drug Use during Pregnancy, 26 Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society 241


2021 Kelly K. Dineen, Abigail Lowe, Nancy E. Kass, Lisa M. Lee, Matthew K. Wynia, Teck Chuan Voo, Seema Mohapatra, Rachel Lookadoo, Athena K. Ramos, Jocelyn J. Herstein, Sara Donovan, James V. Lawler, John J. Lowe, Shelly Schwedhelm, and Nneka O. Sederstrom. 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 (under review)

2021 Kayte Spector-Bagdady, Holly Fernandez Lynch, Barbara E Bierer, Luke Gelinas, Sara Chandros Hull, David Magnus, Michelle Meyer, Richard Sharp, Jeremy Sugarman, Benjamin Wilfond, Ruqaiijah Yearby, and Seema MohapatraAllocation of Opportunities to Participate in Clinical Trials During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Other Exceptional Circumstances, Hastings Center Report

2021 Abigail Lowe, Kelly K. Dineen, and Seema MohapatraStructural Discrimination in Pandemic Policy: Emerging Science, Resource Scarcity, and Infectious Disease Protections for Essential Workers, Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics

2021 Abigail E. Lowe, Kelly K. Dineen, Jocelyn J. Herstein, Matthew K. Wynia, Josh Santarpia, Lisa M. Lee, Alva O. Ferdinand, Sara Donovan, Teck Chuan Voo, David Brett-Major, Rachel Lookadoo, and Seema MohapatraEmerging Science, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guidance, and Resource Scarcity: Inaction and Inequity for Workers in Essential Industries, Health Security

2021 Michelle N. Meyer, Luke Gelinas, Barbara E. Bierer, Sara Chandros Hull, Steven Joffe, David Magnus, Seema Mohapatra, Richard R. Sharp, Kayte Spector-Bagdady, Jeremy Sugarman, Benjamin S. Wilfond, and Holly Fernandez Lynch, An Ethics Framework for Consolidating and Prioritizing COVID-19 Clinical Trials, Clinical Trials

2020 Ruqaiijah Yearby and Seema Mohapatra, Structural Discrimination In COVID-19 Workplace Protections, Health Affairs Blog

2020 Ruqaiijah Yearby and Seema MohapatraLaw, Structural Racism, and the COVID-19 Pandemic, 7 Journal of Law and the Biosciences 1-20

2020 Seema Mohapatra and Dov Fox, The Moral Economy of Fertility Markets: Hope and Hype, History and Inclusion, 48 Journal of Law, Medicine And Ethics,765-767

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)

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), interviewed in Draft Decision on Abortion Could Threaten Birth Control, Too (May 2022)

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

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

Salon,quoted 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)

Salon,quoted in How abortion "trigger laws" could inadvertently impede fertility treatments (May 2022), quoted 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 Standard, quoted in Oklahoma's governor has signed a Texas-style abortion ban. Here's how it could affect Texas (May 2022)

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

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

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

Texas Standard, quoted 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)

2022 Patrick T. Fallon/AFP, Health Worker Vaccine Mandate Stays Intact as Pandemic Recedes, Bloomberg Law, March 21

2022 Jill Ament, Legal Success of Texas' near-total abortion ban prompts 'copycat' laws from other Republican-led states, Texas Standard, March 16

2022 Other states copy Texas abortion law, Texas, March 16

2022 Paige Sutherland & Meghna Chakrabarti, Evaluating the effectiveness of vaccine passes, WBUR-On Point, February 1

2022 Jill Ament, Texas' abortion law could remain in place until summer if case goes to Texas Supreme Court, Texas Standard, January 10