Michelle Oberman

Professor of Law (On Leave Fall 2014)


Professor Oberman is a nationally recognized scholar on the legal and ethical issues surrounding adolescence, pregnancy, and motherhood. She works at the intersection of health law and criminal law, focusing on domestic and international issues. Oberman is active in the academic community, lecturing on health law concerns to a wide variety of audiences, ranging from law school faculties to health care professionals to community-based interest groups.

Oberman received a Fulbright research grant to Chile for spring 2011. In addition to teaching in Valpariaso, she worked on issues pertaining to women’s reproductive health and the law. Her recent book, When Mothers Kill (2008), won the Outstanding Book Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Professor Oberman joined the Santa Clara University School of Law faculty in 2004.


J.D., University of Michigan Law School, 1988

M.P.H., University of Michigan School of Public Health, 1988

B.A., Cornell University, 1983

Areas of Specialization

Health Law Concerns



When Mothers Kill: Interviews from Prison with Meyer. New York University Press (2008) | Link to Library Catalog

Mothers Who Kill Their Children: Understanding the Acts of Moms from Susan Smith to the "Prom Mom" with Meyer. New York University Press (2001) | Link to Library Catalog


Where Stem Cell Research Meets Abortion Politics: Limits on Buying and Selling Human Oocytes with Wolf and Zettler in Baby Markets: Money and the New Politics of Creating Families. Goodwin, editor. Cambridge University Press (2008) | Link to Library Catalog

Mothers Who Kill Their Children: Considering Patterns, Prevention, and Intervention with Meyer in Mental Disorders of the New Millennium. Plante, editor. Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc (2006) | Link to Library Catalog

A Brief History of Infanticide and the Law in Infanticide: Psychosocial and Legal Perspectives on Mothers Who Kill. Spinelli, editor. American Psychiatric Association Press (2003) | Link to Library Catalog

Postpartum Psychoses with Attia and Downey in Postpartum Mood Disorders. Miller, editor. American Psychiatric Publishing (1999) | Link to Library Catalog

Women, Fetuses, Physicians and the State: Pregnancy and Medical Ethics in the 21st Century in Health Care Ethics: Critical Issues for the 21st Century. Thomasma and Monagle, editors. 2d edition. Jones & Bartlett (1998) | Link to Library Catalog

Real and Perceived Legal Barriers to the Inclusion of Women in Clinical Trials in Reframing Women's Health: Multidisciplinary Research and Practice. Dan, editor. Sage Publications (1994) | Link to Library Catalog


Your Work Will Be Your Most "Faithful Mistress": Thoughts on Work-Life Balance Occasioned by the Loss of Professor Jane Larson, 28 Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender, and Society 181-194 (2013) | Link to Digital Commons

Cristina's World: Lessons from El Salvador's Ban on Abortion, 24 Stanford Law and Policy Review 271-308 (2013)

Getting Past Legal Analysis... Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Teaching Rape, 45 Creighton Law Review 799-817 (2012) | Link to Digital Commons

Two Truths and a Lie: In Re John Z and Stories at the Juncture of Teen Sex and the Law, 38 Law and Social Inquiry 364-402 (2013) (Article first published online: April 25, 2012.) | Link to Library Catalog | Link to Full Text

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Buck v. Bell: Thoughts Occasioned by Paul Lombardo's Three Generations, No Imbeciles, 59 Journal of Legal Education 357-392 (2010) | Link to Digital Commons | Link to Library Catalog

Eva and Her Baby (A Story of Adolescent Sex, Pregnancy, Longing, Love, Loneliness, and Death), 16 Duke Journal of Gender Policy & the Law 213-222 (2009) | Link to Digital Commons

Importing Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Lines Derived at Another Institution: Tailoring Review to Ethical Concerns, with Lo, Parham, Broom, Cedars, Gates, Giudice, Halme, Hershon, Kriegstein, Roberts, and Wagner, 4 Cell Stem Cell 115-123 (February 2009) | Link to Full Text

Judging Vanessa: Norm Setting and Deviance in the Law of Motherhood, 15 William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law 337-359 (2009) | Link to Digital Commons

When the Truth Is Not Enough: Tissue Donation, Altruism, and the Market, (Symposium: Precious Commodities: The Supply and Demand of Body Parts), 55 DePaul Law Review 903-941 (2006) | Link to Digital Commons

Sex, Lies, and the Duty to Disclose, 47 Arizona Law Review 871-931 (2005) | Link to Digital Commons

Mothers Who Kill: Cross-Cultural Patterns in and Perspectives on Contemporary Maternal Filicide, 26 International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 493-514 (2003) | Link to Full Text

"Lady Madonna, Children at Your Feet": Tragedies at the Intersection of Motherhood, Mental Illness and the Law, 10 William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law 33-67 (2003) | Link to Digital Commons

Dying Children and Medical Research: Access to Clinical Trials as Benefit and Burden, with Frader, 29 American Journal of Law & Medicine 301-317 (2003) | Link to Digital Commons

Understanding Infanticide in Context: Mothers Who Kill, 1879-1930 and Today, 92 Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 707-737 (2002) | Link to Digital Commons

Girls in the Master's House: Of Protection, Patriarchy and the Potential for Using the Master's Tools to Reconfigure Statutory Rape Law, 50 DePaul Law Review 799-826 (2001) | Link to Digital Commons

Mothers and Doctors' Orders: Unmasking the Doctor's Fiduciary Role in Maternal-Fetal Conflicts, 94 Northwestern University Law Review 451-501 (2000) | Link to Digital Commons

Regulating Consensual Sex with Minors: Defining a Role for Statutory Rape, 48 Buffalo Law Review 703-784 (2000) | Link to Digital Commons

Women's Health and Managed Care, with Schaps, 65 Tennessee Law Review 555-583 (1998) | Link to Digital Commons

Response to "Discontinuing Life Support in an Infant of a Drug Addicted Mother: Whose Decision Is It?" by Jain and Thomasma, 6 Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 235-239 (1997)

Test Wars: Mandatory HIV Testing, Women and Their Children, 3 University of Chicago Law School Roundtable 615-636 (1996) | Link to Digital Commons

Mothers Who Kill: Coming to Terms with Modern American Infanticide, 34 American Criminal Law Review 1-110 (1996) (Reprinted at 8 DePaul Journal of Health Care Law 3-108 (2004)) | Link to Digital Commons

Minor Rights and Wrongs, 24 Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 127-138 (1996) | Link to Digital Commons

Turning Girls into Women: Re-Evaluating Modern Statutory Rape Law, (Part of a Symposium on: Gender Issues and the Criminal Law). 85 Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 15-79 (1994) (Reprinted at 8 DePaul Journal of Health Care Law 107-178 (2004)) | Link to Digital Commons

The Control of Pregnancy and the Criminalization of Femaleness, 7 Berkeley Women's Law Journal 1-12 (1992) | Link to Digital Commons

Sex, Drugs, Pregnancy and the Law: Rethinking the Problems of Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs, 43 Hastings Law Journal 505-548 (1992) | Link to Digital Commons

Drug Abuse and Pregnancy: Some Questions on Public Policy, Clinical Management, and Maternal and Fetal Rights, with Chavkin and Allen, 18 Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care 107-112 (1991)

Sex, Drugs, and Pregnant Addicts: An Ethical and Legal Critique of Societal Responses to Pregnant Addicts, 1 Journal of Clinical Ethics 145-152 (1990)

Withdrawal of Life Support: Individual Autonomy Against Alleged State Interests in Preserving Life, 20 Loyola University of Chicago Law Journal 797-818 (1989) | Link to Digital Commons

Book Reviews

"What Else Could I Do?" Single Mothers and Infanticide, 1900-1950, 20 European Journal for Women's Studies 112-114 (2013) | Link to Digital Commons | Link to Library Catalog

Problems in Hospital Law, 6th edition, 42 International Digest of Health Legislation 812-814 (1991) | Link to Library Catalog

Other Articles

Comment: Infant Abandonment in Texas, 13 Child Maltreatment 94-95 (February 2008) | Link to Full Text

American Association of Law Schools Panel: Panel on the Use of Patients for Teaching Purposes Without Their Knowledge or Consent: Introduction, 8 Journal of Health Care Law and Policy 210-215 (2005) | Link to Digital Commons

A New Era in the Ethics of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, with Lo, Zettler, Cedars, Gates, Kriegstein, Pera, Wagner, Wuerth, Wolf, and Yamamoto, 23 Stem Cells 1454-1459 (2005) | Link to Full Text

Infanticide, 1996 DePaul Law Magazine 8-11 (Fall 1996)

Statutory Rape Laws: Does It Make Sense to Enforce Them in an Increasingly Permissive Society?, with Delgado (commentary), 82 American Bar Association Journal 86-87 (August 1996) | Link to Digital Commons

The New Mature Minor: Sex, Drugs and the Right to Die?, with Fields, ___ Health Law (DePaul Health Law Newsletter) ___ (Winter 1994)


Rape entry in The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion with Baker. Shweder, Bidell, Dailey, Dixon, Miller, and Modell, editors. University of Chicago Press (2009)

Mothers Who Kill, entry in Encyclopedia of Domestic Violence. Jackson, editor. Routledge (2007)

The Current Status of Legal Medicine Education in the United States: Survey of Course Offerings and Relevant Literature Preliminary to the Development of a Model Legal Medicine Curriculum. (Report funded by National Health Lawyers Association grant) (1989)