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Theodore Ruger is the Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. A scholar of constitutional law, Dean Ruger specializes in the study of judicial authority, and is an expert on health law and pharmaceutical regulation. Ruger practiced law at Ropes & Gray in Boston and Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., and began his academic career at Washington University in St. Louis. Ruger holds an AB from Williams College and a JD from Harvard Law School. He was a law clerk to Justice Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court and Judge Michael Boudin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Ruger joined the Penn Law faculty in 2004 and previously served as Deputy Dean of the Law School. In 2014 he helped launch Penn Law’s Master in Law program which offers medical and other professionals a unique opportunity to learn the law impacting their work. Ruger currently teaches Constitutional Law in the program.


Dean Ruger provides an overview of the intersection of law, medicine and religion through a fast-paced and interactive look at the state of the law regarding religion and reproductive rights in the United States today. He also discusses recent significant developments in the U.S. Supreme Court, other courts, and state legislatures around the country.

He addresses the way foundational values such as access to health care and religious freedom, sometimes collide in direct opposition in the context of reproductive freedom and access to contraceptive and reproductive health care. He also explains major U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the role of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act in an effort to better understand the complexity and fluidity of the legal rules governing these areas of health care, and their impact on overall population health

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the current state of the law and the ever-changing legal landscape and key institutional actors in the area of reproductive rights.
  2. Explain the role of the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts in mediating competing claims of religious freedom and access to health care.
  3. Discuss the multifaceted lawmaking going on in these areas at the state level, including the divide among the states that allow health care providers to refuse to provide necessary care.
  4. Describe these issues of law religion as it relates to population health.

Presentation: 53:16