Gillings School Directory

Abigail English, JD

Abigail English, JD

Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Maternal and Child Health
Center for Adolescent Health and the Law
  • PO Box #3795
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27515
  • USA

Abigail English is director of the Center for Adolescent Health & the Law. As a lawyer, researcher and advocate for the rights of vulnerable young people, she has litigated cases affecting the legal rights of children and adolescents, lectured widely and taught courses in public policy, law and public health.

Her research and advocacy have focused on health insurance and public financing of care, consent and confidentiality protections, as well as sexual and reproductive health care. From 1976-1998, she was an attorney at the National Center for Youth Law in San Francisco.

She has held adjunct faculty appointments at the UC-Berkeley School of Public Policy and the Boalt Hall School of Law, in addition to the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2010-2011, she was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, studying sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of adolescents and young adults, which are a major focus of her current work.

Honors and Awards

Outstanding Achievement in Adolescent Medicine

2000, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine

Child Advocacy Award

1997, American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division

Teaching Interests

Abigail English has taught courses in public policy, law and public health:
"The Impact of Government Programs and Policies on Poor Children and Families"
"Children and the Law"
"Adolescent Health and the Law"

She has also lectured extensively to lawyers, health care professionals and other youth-serving professionals on issues related to adolescent health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, Medicaid and health insurance, consent and confidentiality, and sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

Research Activities

adolescent health law and policy
consent and confidentiality
sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation
Medicaid and publicly funded health programs
ACA and health insurance for vulnerable youth

Service Activities

Abigail English has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations and foundations (e.g., Guttmacher Institute, Advocates for Youth, the Brush Foundation) and numerous advisory boards (e.g., Institute of Medicine and National Research Council Committee on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States).

Key Publications

Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Adolescents. Richard J. Chung and Abigail English (2015). Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 27.

Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of the Young and Vulnerable: Reflections on a Legal, Ethical, and Human Rights Disgrace. Abigail English, , 14 ADOLESCENT MEDICINE: STATE OF THE ART REVIEWS 312 (2011) (2011). Adolescent Medicine: State of the Art Reviews, 312(14).

Understanding Legal Aspects of Care. Abigail English and Rebecca Gudeman (Lawrence S. Neinstein et al. eds.) (Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) (1970). Adolescent Health Care: A Practical Guide (6th Ed.).

Increasing Adolescent Vaccination: Barriers and Strategies in the Context of Policy, Legal, and Financial Issues. Carol A. Ford, Abigail English, Amy F. Davenport, and Amy J. Stinnett (2009). Journal of Adolescent Health, 568(44).

Lawyer for Children Left Out, Left Alone, and Left Behind: The Personal Odyssey of an Adolescent Health Advocate. Abigail English (2008). Journal od Adolescent Health, 422(42).


JD, Law, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California-Berkeley, 1975

AB, Philosophy / Government, Radcliffe College, Harvard University, 1971

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