Dear Drexel Students and Colleagues,

Like so many of you, I have been processing Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which has withdrawn any U.S. constitutional protection for the right to have an abortion.

While not unexpected, Friday’s seismic ruling likely has elicited strong emotional reactions within our community from proponents and foes of abortion rights alike. Those who conscientiously oppose abortion rights on ethical grounds supported the Court’s ruling. Those who regard reproductive autonomy as a fundamental civil right are deeply distressed and angry that the Court has eliminated that right.

No matter where one stands on this issue, the Court’s ruling will have immediate and far-reaching impacts on women, on public health, and on communities across much of the country. While disruptive to higher education and to reproductive health services in states with abortion bans and restrictions on the books, the ruling will have devastating impacts on women at greater risk — including low-income women and Black women, who, as a result of many factors, such as structural inequalities and disparities in access to quality health care, are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes.

Where does our University community go from here? How do we uphold our commitment to women’s equality, gender equity, civil rights, and human rights?

We have three primary tasks.

First: We will continue fully supporting women’s reproductive autonomy and the physical and mental health needs of every member of our community — students, faculty, and professional staff. Women still have legal access to reproductive health services, including elective abortions in Pennsylvania. Right now, it is especially important for our students to remember that the services they receive from our health providers and therapists at Drexel’s Student Health Center and Counseling Center will not change, and that the Counseling Center has a social worker on staff who assists students in finding off-campus providers and resources if their needs cannot be met on campus. All our health professionals adhere to the best practices and guidance of the American College Health Association.

Second, as an academic institution, we have the responsibility to mobilize our teaching and research enterprise toward more fully understanding and mitigating the potentially harmful impacts of Friday’s ruling on women and public health. To take on this formidable task, we have tremendous scholarly expertise in law, medicine, nursing, public health, and across the social sciences. I was encouraged to learn from Dean Dan Filler that the Thomas R. Kline School of Law is planning a formal program that will explore the legal implications of the Court’s ruling, along with strategies for scholars, lawyers, future lawyers and legal professionals, and advocates to respond. We can look forward to more high-level discussions and focused programming at our other schools and colleges in the coming weeks and months.

Third, every one of us has the civic duty to vote and the responsibility to become fully informed about the issues, especially those issues where the stakes for our society are high. We will continue our long-term efforts to boost voter registration among our students and voting throughout our community.

Meanwhile, as we strive to become better informed voters and more civically engaged citizens, let us take extra pains to uphold other key principles that historically have helped American democracy and higher education to flourish: free inquiry, open discussion and robust debate — with mutual respect for those holding opposing views, especially on issues as highly charged and divisive as abortion.


John Fry

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