hero image
Jennifer Dunn - UC Hastings College of the Law. San Francisco, CA, US

Jennifer Dunn

Lecturer | UC Hastings College of the Law

San Francisco, CA, UNITED STATES

Contact: dunnj@uchastings.edu / 415-581-8983 / Office M216-198


Professor Dunn joined the UC Hastings faculty in 2013 as a Lecturer in Law. She will be teaching courses at the intersection of health sciences and law. Before joining the faculty, she spent 15 years working in law firms, research centers and academia.

Licensed in California and New York, Professor Dunn began her legal career at a plaintiffs' class action law firm where she litigated health care and civil rights cases in state and federal courts throughout the country. She represented plaintiffs in Abdullahi v. Pfizer, a mass tort alleging Pfizer violated international law in conducting a clinical trial of the antibiotic Trovan without first obtaining the consent of the children or their parents. Other representative cases include class action lawsuits against insurance companies alleging racial discrimination in the sale of life insurance policies, a class action challenging an employer’s denial of health insurance coverage for prescription contraceptives, and multidistrict litigation against health maintenance organizations.

Professor Dunn’s research, writing and advocacy focuses on women’s health and reproductive justice. She is a frequent guest lecturer at medical and health sciences conferences and grand rounds. Her recent article, After the Choice: Challenging California’s Physician-Only Abortion Restriction was published in the UCLA Law Review Discourse in June 2013. Her collaborative study with UCSF’s Schools of Nursing and Medicine, which looked at hospital bans on vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) and the impact on access in California, was published in BioMed Central Pregnancy and Childbirth in early 2013. Professor Dunn’s first book, Abortion in California: A Medical-Legal Handbook, was co-authored with UCSF faculty and serves as a resource for clinics and hospitals throughout California.

Professor Dunn served as the Acting Assistant Dean of the Graduate Division at UC Hastings in 2012-2013 and previously served as the Executive Director of the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy. Before joining UC Hastings in 2009, she spent four years as the Law & Policy Advisor for Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, a collaborative research group and “think tank” at the University of California, San Francisco. She has taught women’s health and reproductive justice at UC Hastings and UC Berkeley Law.

Social Media

Areas of Expertise (16)

Right to Refuse Treatment

The Rights of Pregnant Women

Health Law

Human Subjects Research

Maternal Health & Informed Consent

Adolescent Health

Women's Health

Reproductive Health & Justice

Professional Responsibility & Legal Ethics

Global Health Policy

Women's Health and Empowerment

The Right to Health

Health Disparities and Vulnerable Populations

Health Care Access

Global Maternal Morbidity and Mortality

Pregnancy Loss

Education (2)

University of California, Hastings College of the Law: J.D., Law 1998

University of California, Berkeley: B.A., English 1991

Affiliations (3)

  • California Bar Association : Member
  • New York Bar Association : Member
  • ACLU of Northern California : Pro Bono Attorney

Languages (2)

  • English
  • Spanish

Media Appearances (3)

Suits Seek to Stop Release of Anti-Abortion Videos

The Recorder  online


The Center for Medical Progress now knows the dates and locations of the upcoming two conferences, forcing the NAF to beef up its security presence, the suit claims. The recent breach also has prompted concern from past conference speakers who fear they have been recorded in soon-to-be-released videos. Among them is UC-Hastings College of the Law professor Jennifer Dunn, an expert on the law surrounding women's health, who spoke at the San Francisco conference, according to the complaint.

view more

3Ls Sonya Rahders and Arneta Rogers Selected as Law Students For Reproductive Justice Fellows

UC Hastings College of the Law  online


Rogers served on the executive boards of UC Hastings’ Black Law Students Association and OutLaw. “Sonya has an incredible passion for reproductive justice work and has a deep desire to create social change,” said Professor Jennifer Dunn ’98. “Arneta has been part of the Bay Area women’s rights and reproductive justice community for years.”...

view more

Nursing, Medicine, and Law Come Together in New California Legislation

UC Hastings College of the Law  online


For any professor or professional researcher, it can often take months or years to see the seeds of a research project bear fruit. For UC Hastings Professor Jennifer Dunn, the passage of California’s new law AB154, which went into effect January 1, 2014, marked the end of a nine-year “gestation period” of her work coming to fruition...

view more

Event Appearances (8)

Applying a Human Rights Approach to Maternal Mortality

West Coast Launch of the World Bank Report  San Francisco, CA


Required Funeral Disposition After a Miscarriage at 20 Weeks: Patient Preference or a Mistake in Form?

Center for Healthy Communities Conference  Los Angeles, CA.


Post-Viability Abortion and the Health Exception,

Psychiatry Grand Rounds, Parnassus Campus  University of California, San Francisco, CA.


Ethics in Perinatology: A Day of Dilemmas, Discussion and Debate

Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, 33rd Annual Meeting  San Francisco, CA.


The Social and Historical Context: Abortion in the U.S. Before Roe v Wade

Roe v Wade at 40 Symposium  Stanford, CA.


Forced Obstetrical Intervention: Still Happening After In Re AC?

Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Science Grand Rounds, Parnassus Campus  University of California, San Francisco, CA.


Pregnancy, Capacity & Psychosis, Psychiatry Grand Rounds

San Francisco General Hospital  University of California San Francisco, CA


Gender, Reproduction and the Supreme Court

California Annual State Bar Conference  San Francisco, CA


Selected Articles (3)

After the Choice: Challenging California’s Physician-Only Abortion Restriction Under the State Constitution

UCLA Law Review


Abortion has been legal in California for more than forty years. When Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act in 1967, California became one of the first states to legalize abortion in cases of rape, incest, or when continuing the pregnancy would impair a woman’s physical or mental health. Two years later, the California Supreme Court recognized for the first time the “fundamental right . . . to choose whether to bear children.” In 1972, California voters amended the state constitution to include an explicit right to privacy. More recently, in 2002, California legislators passed the Reproductive Privacy Act to codify the holding in Roe v. Wade. The act provides that “[e]very woman has the fundamental right to choose . . . to obtain an abortion,” and “[t]he state shall not deny or interfere with” this right. Thus, California has remained at the forefront of states that recognize the right to privacy and the right to an abortion.

view more

Survey of Access to Trial of Labor in California Hospitals in 2012

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth


Since 1996 the number of women undergoing a trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC) has dropped sharply, due in part to two sets of guidelines issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Following a widely publicized study and increasing malpractice concerns around TOLACs, ACOG in 1998 revised its guidelines for women desiring a vaginal birth after a cesarean. The 1998 guideline differed from the earlier 1994 guideline by limiting TOLAC to women with one or two prior cesareans but kept in place the previous requirement that a physician capable of performing a cesarean should be “readily available” and that anesthesia be available. Then, in 1999, ACOG re-issued its guideline in which the only changes were to replace physicians be ‘readily available’ with “immediately available”, and stipulated that 24-hour in-hospital anesthesia should also be available. In the wake of these guidelines, the cesarean delivery rate in the United States rose from 21% to 32.8% between 1996 and 2010 and the vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) rate (per 100 women with a prior cesarean) dropped from 28% to 8%. In response to the rising cesarean rate, the decline in VBAC, and the intense focus on a rare outcome (0.5% for uterine rupture among TOLAC women), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened a Consensus Development Conference Panel in March 2010 to address key questions surrounding the practice of TOLAC. A systematic literature review by a panel of experts showed that for women with one or two prior low transverse uterine incisions, both TOLAC and elective repeat cesarean delivery carry important risks and benefits, which differ for the woman and the fetus. Given the available evidence, the Panel concluded that TOLAC “is a reasonable option for many pregnant women” and that efforts are needed to ensure that women with a prior cesarean are supported in making informed decisions about trial of labor versus an elective repeat cesarean. “When [TOLAC] and elective repeat cesarean delivery are medically equivalent options”, the Panel’s statement encourages a shared decision-making process that, whenever possible, allows the woman’s preference to be honored.

view more

Physician Assistant as Abortion Provider: Lessons from New York, Montana and Vermont

Hastings Law Journal


The United States is suffering from a shortage of physicians willing to provide abortions. According to a 1992 study, 84% of all counties had no abortion provider and 94% of rural counties had no abortion provider. Some states have only one doctor who performs abortions for the entire state. Moreover, the problem of access has worsened since these studies were conducted. Many providers have retired or discontinued providing abortions, and new providers have not stepped forward to replace them.

view more