Gavel and stethoscope.

The Journal of Law and the Biosciences’ Growing Impact

The Journal of Law and Biosciences, a co-venture between Duke University, Harvard Law School, and Stanford University, offers high-quality, open-access scholarship at the intersection of the biosciences and law. The Journal, which is published by Oxford University Press, is the first fully open-access, peer-reviewed legal journal to focus on these issues.

Recently, the Journal of Law and the Biosciences received exciting news in the form of an updated impact factor score. The journal now has an impact factor of 6.066, a substantial increase from the year prior. It ranks third out of 56 ethics journals, second out of sixteen journals in the medical ethics category, second out of 154 law journals, and first out of seventeen journals in the legal medicine category.

The following excerpts highlight the cutting-edge scholarship published in the Journal‘s most recent issue, which closed in June 2022.

“What will and won’t happen when abortion is banned,” by Michelle Oberman.


For the past 50 years, abortion opponents have fought for the power to ban abortion without little attention to how things might change when they won. The battle to make abortion illegal has been predicated on three nebulous assumptions about how abortion bans work. First, supporters believe banning abortion will deter it. Second, they hope bans will send a message about abortion—specifically, that abortion is immoral. And third, they expect bans to be competently implemented and enforced. Drawing on empirical work from within and outside of the U.S., this Article offers an evidence-based assessment of each of these assumptions. Part One examines the question of deterrence by exploring findings from countries with relatively high and relatively low abortion rates. After explaining why restrictive abortion laws alone do not reduce aggregate abortion rates, I consider the matter of individual deterrence. By identifying those most likely to be deterred by U.S. abortion bans, I illustrate how abortion bans intersect with structural inequalities to disproportionately impact poor women of color and their children. Part Two tests the idea that abortion bans send a message. I consider the bans’ meaning in context with U.S. laws and policies affecting families, exposing the difference between laws discouraging abortion, and those encouraging childbirth. Then, drawing from literature on the expressive function of the law, I assess the limits on the message-sending capacity of abortion bans in a society divided over abortion and over its commitment to children living in poverty. Part Three turns to the expectation that abortion bans will be competently enforced, noting the legitimacy struggles arising from law enforcement patterns, along with the administrative challenges inherent in overseeing the various exceptions to abortion bans. This article concludes by considering why the consequences and limitations of abortion bans should matter to supporters and opponents, alike.

“Framing vaccine mandates: messenger and message effects,” by Christopher Buccafusco and Daniel J. Hemel.


In September 2021, President Biden announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would require large employers to ensure workers are vaccinated against Covid-19 or tested weekly. Although widely characterized as ‘Biden’s vaccine mandate’, the policy could be described with equal accuracy as ‘OSHA’s testing mandate’. Some commentators speculated that reframing the policy as a testing mandate would boost support. This study investigates how framing effects shape attitudes toward vaccination policies. Before the Supreme Court struck down the vaccinate-or-test rule, we presented 1500 US adults with different descriptions of the same requirement. Reframing ‘Biden’s vaccine mandate’ as ‘OSHA’s testing mandate’ significantly increased support, boosting net approval by 13 percentage points. The effect was driven by changing the ‘messenger frame’ (replacing ‘Biden’ with ‘OSHA’) rather than changing the ‘message frame’ (replacing ‘vaccine mandate’ with ‘testing mandate’). Our results suggest that messenger framing can meaningfully affect public opinion even after a policy is widely known. Our study also reveals a potential cost of presidential administration when partisan divisions are deep. Framing a regulatory policy as an extension of the president can elicit strong—here, negative—reactions that may be avoidable if the policy is framed as the work of a bureaucratic agency.

“Addressing choice of law challenges in multi-state precision medicine research: experts’ assessment of key factors,” by Leslie E. Wolf, Erin Fuse Brown, Roxanne Greeson, Catherine Hammack-Aviran, James W. Hazel, William Rencher, and Laura M. Beskow.


Precision medicine research implicates numerous state laws that may affect participants’ rights and protections and are not preempted by federal law. The choice of which state’s laws apply, and under what circumstances, can have significant impact on research design and oversight. But neither of the traditional approaches to choice of law issues—contractual agreement or determination by a court after a dispute arises—fit the research context well. We hosted a series of workshops with choice of law experts and research law and ethics experts to identify factors that are most crucial to account for in a future choice of law precision medicine research framework. Our workshops focused on precision medicine ‘places’ and choice of law factors; there was consensus that ‘place where the harm occurred’ was relevant and best represented by where the participant resides and/or where the research/institution is located. Our experts identified factors that need to be accounted for in a future choice of law framework. They also identified potential approaches, including a federal law or model state law as ways of achieving more uniformity of protections and a comprehensive database of laws, which merit further consideration to provide IRBs and researchers the guidance they require.

Sumit Your Work to JLB

JLB is co-edited by Professors I. Glenn Cohen (Harvard Law School), Nita Farahany (Duke University School of Law), and Hank Greely (Stanford Law School). JLB contains original and response articles, essays, and commentaries on a wide range of topics, including bioethics, neuroethics, genetics, reproductive technologies, stem cells, enhancement, patent law, and food and drug regulation.

The journal is always looking to publish new, exciting work. JLB encourages the submission of original manuscripts, responses, and essays devoted to the examination of issues related to the intersection of law and the biosciences. JLB welcomes submissions of varying length, with a theoretical, empirical, practical or policy-oriented focus.

Learn more about the kind of work JLB publishes and how to submit here.

The Petrie-Flom Center Staff

The Petrie-Flom Center staff often posts updates, announcements, and guests posts on behalf of others.

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