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Seminar: Conversations on Social Reproduction

Speaker: Dr Gauri Pillai, National Law School of India University

Dr. Gauri Pillai is an Assistant Professor at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. Her research and teaching centre around comparative constitutional law and theory, discrimination, human rights and family law and reproductive rights and justice. She completed the BCL with distinction and the DPhil in Law from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. During her time at Oxford, she was Managing Editor of the Oxford Human Rights Hub Blog and Co-Convenor of the Oxford Pro Bono Publico. She has been awarded the Max Weber Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the European University Institute, Florence.

Abstract: The legal regulation of abortion remains sharply contested. While some countries have made significant progress in protecting access to abortion, in others abortion is being restricted, with seemingly established rights being rolled back. Much of this contestation plays out in domestic constitutional orders. Within those orders, questions of whether and, if so, how reproductive rights are guaranteed continue to generate debate and jurisprudence. My thesis centres India as an important locus of constitutionalised reproductive rights, reorienting attention away from the USA and UK (which dominate the English-language legal literature). In India, reproductive rights, while not explicitly protected within the Constitution, are clearly recognised as part of the right to life and personal liberty. In that context, my doctoral work takes an original approach to understanding and resolving constitutional claims to reproductive rights. I argue that constitutionalising reproductive rights in a way that addresses the empirical, everyday realities of lack of reproductive agency requires engagement not only with whether a constitution protects reproductive rights per se but also rethinking the ‘constitutional home’ of reproductive rights. In this session, I explore the argument in my doctoral thesis through a close reading of the Indian Supreme Court's recent decision in X v NCT Delhi (2022).

The Laws of Social Reproduction project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (under grant agreement No. 772946).. For more information about the project, please email

At this event

Prabha Kotiswaran

Professor of Law & Social Justice

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