Robyn M. Powell

  • Associate Professor of Law


B.S., Bridgewater State University, 2003

J.D., Suffolk University Law School, 2007

M.A., Brandeis University, 2016

Ph.D., Brandeis University, 2020

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Research Interests

  • Disability Justice
  • Reproductive Justice
  • Family Law
  • Public Health Law
  • Health Justice


Robyn M. Powell is one of the country’s foremost authorities on the rights of parents with disabilities. Dr. Powell joined the University of Oklahoma College of Law faculty in 2022, where she teaches Family Law, Disability Law, Professional Responsibility, and Public Health Law. Dr. Powell’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of disability law, family law, reproductive justice, and public health law, with a particular emphasis on examining how laws and policies affect disabled people’s decision-making about whether and when to have children. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Michigan Law Review, UCLA Law Review, Washington University Law Review, Washington Law Review, Tulane Law Review, Harvard Law Review Blog, Virginia Law Review Online, Yale Law & Policy Review, Stanford Law & Policy Review, Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, among others. She also has been published in leading peer-reviewed social science journals.

Before joining OU Law, Dr. Powell was the Bruce R. Jacob Visiting Assistant Professor at the Stetson University College of Law, where she taught Torts, Disability Law, and Public Health Law. For three years, she was an Instructor at Boston University School of Law, where she taught Disability Law.

As a disabled woman, Dr. Powell has dedicated her career to advancing the rights of people with disabilities. For nearly five years, she served as an Attorney-Advisor at the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency that advises the President and Congress on matters concerning people with disabilities. Previously, she served as a Research Associate at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University, Disability Rights Program Manager at the Equal Rights Center, Assistant Director for Policy and Advocacy at the Disability Policy Consortium, and Staff Attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services.

Dr. Powell is the principal author of NCD’s report, Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children. As a leading expert, she has been interviewed extensively for international, national, and local print, radio, and television, including ABC News, BBC, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, New York Magazine, NPR, USA Today, and Washington Post. In May 2016, she was an invited speaker at the White House Forum on the Civil Rights of Parents with Disabilities.

Additional Information


Care Reimagined: Transforming Law by Embracing Interdependence, 122 Michigan Law Review __ (forthcoming 2024).

Legal Ableism: A Systematic Review of State Termination of Parental Rights Laws, 101 Washington University Law Review __ (forthcoming 2023).

Disability Reproductive Justice During COVID-19 and Beyond, 72 American University Law Review __ (forthcoming 2023).

Remembering Judy Heumann, Harvard Law Review Blog (2023) (invited).

Including Disabled People in the Battle to Protect Abortion Rights: A Call-to-Action, 70 UCLA Law Review __ (forthcoming 2023).

Disability Reproductive Justice, 170 University of Pennsylvania Law Review __ (forthcoming 2022).

Beyond Disability Rights: A Way Forward After the 2020 Election, 15 Saint Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy __ (forthcoming 2022).

Achieving Justice for Disabled Parents and Their Children: An Abolitionist Approach, 33 Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 37 (2022).

Becoming a Disabled Parent: Eliminating Access Barriers to Health Care Before, During, and After Pregnancy, 96 Tulane Law Review 369 (2022) (with Erin E. Andrews and Kara Ayers).

From Carrie Buck to Britney Spears: Strategies for Disrupting the Ongoing Reproductive Oppression of Disabled People, 107 Virginia Law Review Online 246 (2021).

Confronting Eugenics Means Finally Confronting its Ableist Roots, 27 William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice 607 (2021).

Applying the Health Justice Framework to Address Health and Health Care Inequities Experienced by People with Disabilities During and After COVID-19, 96 Washington Law Review 93 (2021).

Barriers and Facilitators to Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act by the Child Welfare System: Insights from Interviews with Disabled Parents, Child Welfare Workers, and Attorneys, 32 Stanford Law & Policy Review 119 (2021) (with Sasha Albert).

Terminating the Parental Rights of Mothers with Disabilities: An Empirical Legal Analysis, 85 Missouri Law Review 1069 (2020) (with Susan L. Parish, Monika Mitra, Michael Waterstone, and Stephen Fournier).

The Americans with Disabilities Act and Termination of Parental Rights Cases: An Examination of Appellate Decisions Involving Disabled Mothers, 39 Yale Law & Policy Review 157 (2020) (with Susan L. Parish, Monika Mitra, Michael Waterstone, and Stephen Fournier).

Responding to the Legal Needs of Parents with Psychiatric Disabilities: Insights from Interviews with Parents, 38 Minnesota Journal of Law & Inequality 69 (2020) (with Susan L. Parish, Monika Mitra, and Joanne Nicholson).

Family Law, Parents with Disabilities, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 57 Family Court Review 37 (2019).

Safeguarding the Rights of Parents with Intellectual Disabilities in Child Welfare Cases: The Convergence of Social Science and Law, 20 CUNY Law Review 127 (2017).

Persons with Disabilities and Their Sexual, Reproductive, and Parenting Rights: An International Comparative Analysis, 11 Frontiers of Law in China 53 (2016) (with Michael A. Stein).

Courses Taught


  • Disability Law 6100
  • Family Law 5443
  • Professional Responsibility 5323

Professional Associations and Affiliations

Disability Rights Bar Association

American Public Health Law Association

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