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Keels, Lisa M. “‘“Substantially Limited:” The Reproductive Rights of Women Living with HIV/AIDS.’” Baltimore Law Review, 2010, 1–34.


This article presents an analysis of Bragdon v. Abbott (1998), the Supreme Court case that allowed for the protection of people with HIV/AIDS under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The author argues that the legal basis for making this classification – that people were “substantially limited” by their HIV/AIDS status, particularly in their reproductive abilities – inadvertently served to further stigmatize women with HIV/AIDS who choose to reproduce. Furthermore, Keels argues that this case and the precedent it set for lower courts is out of touch with the medical advancements regarding treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS and prevention of mother-to-child transmission. Additionally, she posits that this stigma also serves to perpetuate both gender and socioeconomic discrimination. Drawing on a review of Bragdon v. Abbott and other court cases, public health data from the time of the court’s decision, research on women living with HIV/AIDS, and research on providing clinical care to people with HIV/AIDS, the author aims to demonstrate that not only is (and was) the court case inconsistent with contemporary scientific understandings of HIV/AIDS and its transmission, but the medical community is as well, both of which serve to limit women living with HIV/AIDS who wish to reproduce from doing so. She argues for both legal solutions to this change the existing precedent – including a new definition of “disability,” as well as collaborative efforts in the medical community to reduce the stigma facing women with HIV/AIDS who want to have children.


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Legal case   Disability justice   Health care   Pregnancy   Health disparities