Jennifer Denbow

Jennifer Denbow

Assistant Professor


  • Public Law
  • Political Theory
  • Reproductive Law and Politics
  • Feminist Theory
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Jurisprudence

Contact Information

About Jennifer Denbow

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Dr. Jennifer Denbow is a critical scholar and Assistant Professor of Political Science at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Her research combines theory and case studies to examine reproductive law, politics, and technology in the contemporary US. She is the author of Governed through Choice: Autonomy, Technology, and the Politics of Reproduction (NYU Press, 2015). Her work has also been published in journals such as Signs, Constellations, and Frontiers. She holds a Ph.D. and J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Denbow's first book, Governed through Choice, analyzes a range of reproductive policies and practices, including sterilization and mandatory ultrasounds. She argues that experts often employ a liberal western understanding of autonomy that justifies paternalism for anyone whose behavior does not adhere to dominant norms. The book thus uncovers how lawmakers, judges, and medical experts use discourses of autonomy and choice to undermine reproductive justice. The book also theorizes a more emancipatory vision of autonomy. 

Dr. Denbow is currently working on a second book project, tentatively titled Medicalizing Reproductive Law, Individualizing Justice. The book will examine the co-production of legal and medical knowledge about reproduction to show how the medicalization of pregnancy has re-entrenched racialized and classed hierarchies and has had far-ranging consequences for reproductive law and policy. A main insight of the project is that the centrality of medical knowledge to US reproductive law, along with the adversarial character of the legal system, has fueled an individualized approach to issues of reproductive justice.


  • Ph.D., Jurisprudence and Social Policy, Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality, University of California, Berkeley (2010)
  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley (2007)
  • B.S., Philosophy, Minors in Mathematics and Physics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2003)


  • Judicial Process
  • Constitutional Law
  • Civil Rights
  • Reproductive Politics
  • Feminist Legal Theory
  • Basic Concepts of Political Thought


Selected Publications 

"Good Mothering Before Birth: Measuring Attachment and Ultrasound as an Affective Technology,” Engaging Science, Technology, and Society 5 (2019).

“The Problem with Hobby Lobby: Neoliberal Jurisprudence and Neoconservative Values,” Feminist Legal Studies (2017).

"Abortion as Genocide: Race, Agency, and Nation in Prenatal Nondiscrimination Bans," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 41, no. 3 (2016).

Governed through Choice: Autonomy, Technology, and the Politics of Reproduction (New York: New York University Press, 2015).

“Reproductive Autonomy, Counter-conduct, and the Juridical,” Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, vol. 21, no. 3 (2014).

“Sterilization as Cyborg Performance: Reproductive Freedom and the Regulation of Sterilization,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, vol. 35, no. 1 (2014).

“The Pedagogy of Rape Law: Objectivity, Identity, and Emotion,” The Journal of Legal Education, vol. 64, no. 1 (2014).

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