About The Center for Human Rights

The Center for Human Rights is a research, education, and advocacy center for the promotion and protection of international human rights. The Center provides classroom instruction, career development, and opportunities for participation in research, scholarship, lectures, conferences, and seminars. Along with several human rights courses at Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, the Center sponsors international courses in Europe and Cambodia.

Previous Event

TLS Center for Human Rights Presents

Human Rights and the Unborn:
The Plausibility of Constitutional Legal Personhood

with Professor Michael Paulsen (University of St. Thomas School of Law)
Is the unborn human child a “person” within the legal meaning of the U.S. Constitution? A “person” whom the state may not deprive of life “without due process of law” and to whom the several states owe a constitutional duty of “equal protection of the laws” from the private violence or wrongs of others, or the discrimination of the state? The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization famously overruled the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade creating a constitutional right to abortion. But is there a constitutional human right to life that affirmatively forbids abortion in many or most circumstances? The Dobbs majority expressed deep skepticism of this position. But it is a close, difficult, and exceedingly important question of constitutional law and human rights. Is the legal-personhood position constitutionally plausible?

Distinguished University Chair and Professor, University of St. Thomas School of Law

Michael Paulsen received his B.A. with distinction from Northwestern University; an M.A. in Religion from Yale Divinity School; and his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and a recipient of the Harlan Fiske Stone Prize for appellate advocacy. He joined the Department of Justice in the Criminal Division Honors Program, and has also served as staff counsel for the Center for Law & Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C. and as an attorney-advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel. Professor Paulsen is among the nation’s leading scholars of constitutional interpretation and has published numerous articles.

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