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Beginning of Life

Resources for researching legal and policy issues of reproduction, pregnancy, birth.


This guide supports LAW H508, Beginning of Life: Rights and Choices.WPA poster Expecting

Legal issues in connection with beginning of life rights and choices are found in many areas of the law. Laws, regulations, and policies implicate issues such as contraception, reproduction (including issues such as surrogate parenthood, sperm and egg donation, in vitro fertilization, etc.), abortion, and genetic technologies (including issues such as cloning and stem cell research).


Graphic: WPA Federal Art Project poster, Expecting? Get the right advice from the right sources, your doctor or health bureau. Available from Library of Congress.

Research Process

As you approach a paper, think about what questions you need to answer. What terms will you use in searches or indexes

Find secondary sources (scholarly articles, books, etc.) on the topic

  • Think about what types of secondary sources (books, law journals, non-law journals, etc.) will work best for particular questions. A law journal might give you a good overview of the case law on abortion restrictions, but a news story will be more useful for what legislators are saying in state legislatures.
  • Remember that one source will lead you to others. E.g., a news story might say that farmers held a strike about tea prices, and then you can go looking for deeper coverage.

Find information from relevant organizations.

Developing a Topic

See Finding & Developing a Topic in the guide to Writing for & Publishing in Law Reviews.

See the Staying Current guide for lots of ways to keep up with new developments. In addition to the Health Law section, you might want to look at the Poverty section.