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Journal: Fordham law review

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“Wrongful birth” is a controversial medical malpractice claim raised by the mother of a child born with a disability against a medical professional whose failure to provide adequate prenatal information denied her the chance to abort. Plaintiff-mothers are required to testify that, but for the defendant’s negligence, they would have terminated their pregnancy. Accordingly, alongside pro-life activists, disability rights advocates have opposed “wrongful birth” claims for stigmatizing and discriminating against people with disabilities by framing their very existence as a harm. Despite plaintiff-mothers' need for caretaking resources, scholars have recommended solutions ranging from the wholesale elimination of the wrongful birth claim to the curtailment of damages. To the extent scholars and the media have acknowledged mothers in the wrongful birth discourse at all, often it has been to blame and shame them for allegedly rejecting their children. They have paid little attention to the ways wrongful birth jurisprudence forces mothers to disavow their children in court, and thereby to forfeit the “good mother” ideal, in exchange for the possibility of securing necessary resources for their children. Commentators who question plaintiff-mothers' maternal devotion exacerbate the psychological toll the law already imposes. This Article shifts the blame from mothers to the legal system. While wrongful birth proceedings portray mothers' feelings about their children as categorically negative, real life accounts and social science findings reveal the true paradoxical experiences of all mothers, including plaintiff-mothers raising children with disabilities. To acknowledge this complex reality and mitigate the emotional strain of bringing a wrongful birth claim, this Article proposes several legal reforms: (1) broadening the analysis of emotional distress to reflect and legitimize mothers' paradoxical feelings about their children; (2) reframing the harm to mothers as loss of reproductive choice rather than as the birth of a flawed child and, accordingly, expanding available economic damages to include plaintiff-mothers' unexpected childcare responsibilities; and (3) educating plaintiffs' attorneys to empathize with the emotional aspects of mothers' litigation experiences and to counsel mothers accordingly. Today’s approach to “wrongful birth” claims, which both stigmatizes disability and strains caretakers, demands urgent reform.

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Bullying has long been a concern for students, parents, teachers, and school administrators. But technological advances–including the internet, cell phones, and social media–have transformed the nature of bullying and allow “cyberbullies” to extend their reach far beyond the schoolhouse gate. The U.S. Supreme Court established that schools may regulate on-campus speech if the speech creates a substantial disruption of, or material interference with, school activities. However, the Court has yet to rule on a school’s ability to regulate students' off-campus bullying speech. This Note examines how various courts have approached the issue, analyzes the current circuit split, and ultimately proposes that schools should have the authority to discipline students for off-campus bullying speech.

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Recent developments in gene-editing technology have enabled scientists to manipulate the human genome in unprecedented ways. One technology in particular, Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Pallindromic Repeat (CRISPR), has made gene editing more precise and cost-effective than ever before. Indeed, scientists have already shown that CRISPR can eliminate genes linked to life-threatening diseases from an individual’s genetic makeup and, when used on human embryos, CRISPR has the potential to permanently eliminate hereditary diseases from the human genome in its entirety. These developments have brought great hope to individuals and their families, who suffer from genetically linked diseases. But there is a dark side: in the wrong hands, CRISPR could negatively impact the course of human evolution or be used to create biological weaponry. Despite these possible consequences, CRISPR remains largely unregulated due to the United States’s outdated regulatory scheme for biotechnology. Moreover, human embryo research, which is likely critical to maximizing the therapeutic applications of CRISPR, is not easily undertaken by scientists due to a number of federal and state restrictions aimed at preventing such research. This Note examines the possible benefits and consequences of CRISPR and discusses the current regulations in both the fields of biotechnology and human embryo research that hamper the government’s ability to effectively regulate this technology. Ultimately, this Note proposes a new regulatory scheme for biotechnology that focuses on the processes used to create products using CRISPR, rather than the products themselves, with a focus on enabling ethical research using human embryos to maximize the potential benefits of CRISPR.

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In American criminal law, actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea, “an act does not make one guilty, without a guilty mind.” Both actus reus and mens rea are required to justify criminal liability. The Model Penal Code’s (MPC) section on culpability has been especially influential on mens rea analysis. An issue of increasing importance in this realm arises when an offensive act is committed while the actor is under the influence of drugs. Several legal doctrines address the effect of intoxication on mental state, including the MPC, limiting or eliminating its relevance to the mens rea analysis. Yet these doctrines do not differentiate between intoxication and addiction. Neuroscience research reveals that drug addiction results in catastrophic damage to the brain resulting in cognitive and behavioral deficits. Methamphetamine addiction is of particular interest to criminal law because it causes extensive neural destruction and is associated with impulsive behavior, violent crime, and psychosis. Furthermore, research has revealed important distinctions between the effects of acute intoxication and addiction. These findings have implications for the broader doctrine of mens rea and, specifically, the intoxication doctrines. This Note argues for the adoption of an addiction doctrine that acknowledges the effect of addiction on mens rea that is distinct from doctrines of intoxication.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Drug addiction, Heroin, Crime, Criminal law, Mens rea, Actus reus