Women’s colleges react to post-Roe country

Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Waderemoving the constitutional right to abortion that had been in place for almost 50 years, higher education faced adeer reality.

As the vast majority of people seeking and obtaining abortions in the country identify as women, Various reached out to 29 women’s colleges or historic women’s colleges for their responses to the news.

Eleven colleges responded by press time with a statement from their president or a senior executive regarding the decision to cancel deer in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. These colleges included Barnard College (New York), Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania), Cedar Crest College (Pennsylvania), Meredith College (North Carolina), Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts), Simmons University (Massachusetts – historic women’s college), Smith College (Massachusetts), Sweet Briar College (Virginia), Trinity Washington University (Washington, DC), Vassar College (New York – historic women’s college) and Wellesley College (Massachusetts).

“As president of one of the largest women’s colleges in the country, I felt it was important to respond to this shift in rights that has endured for almost 50 years,” wrote Dr. Jo Allen, president of Meredith College, in a statement sent. to the campus community on the day of the Dobbs decision. “A decision that challenges a woman’s intellect and her right to determine what happens to her own body not only blatantly delves into a woman’s privacy, but also signals a lack of respect for her decision. decision and a careful weighing of all sides of that decision.”

A few days after the Dobbs decision, six presidents of the Seven Sisters wrote a letter to the New York Times who decried the decision. These presidents came from Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley.

Marina Catallozzi, vice president of health and wellness as well as director of health at Barnard College, and Jennifer Rosales, vice president for inclusion and engaged learning as well as director of diversity at Barnard, said Barnard had “sure an insurance plan and coverage that includes reproductive health and pregnancy termination services. The college is in New York, where abortion remains legal.

“The Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs vs. Jackson will impact the human rights of all who identify as female or have the ability to become pregnant,” Catallozzi and Rosales wrote in an email to Various. “An important first step for higher education is sharing knowledge during such an intense and chaotic time with students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents.”

Catallozzi and Rosales added that the Barnard community in the fall will be invited to submit proposals for funding research and education that “address the reproductive health and rights of women, girls, and those who may become pregnant.” to further activate Barnard’s commitment to supporting reproductive health and justice.” for everyone.”

At Trinity Washington University, a Catholic college for women that is both a predominantly black institution and a Hispanic-serving institution, Dr. Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity, also issued a statement to students, faculty and to staff on the day of Dobbs decision.

” To spill deer now exposes women, their doctors, and their advocates to newly enacted state laws that encourage citizen oversight and criminalize not only the act of abortion, but also medical advice and assistance,” McGuire wrote. “It does not help the cause of protecting human life and dignity; women will suffer and die as a result of this decision, especially those who lack economic security.

McGuire said many Trinity students are mothers and the primary caregivers in their families. The majority of Trinity students are also women of color. The researchers point out that abortion bans and harsh restrictions are most likely to harm women of color, especially poor women of color, who often seek to terminate a pregnancy for economic reasons.

McGuire’s statement also touched on the institution’s identity as a Catholic institution. “We should strive to build a society in which abortion is rarely, if ever, necessary,” she wrote. “But pitting the unborn child’s right to life against women’s rights will solve nothing and, in fact, take this nation even further away from a true consensus on how to protect all life and human dignity.”

Dr. Elizabeth Meade is president of Cedar Crest College, a women’s college in Pennsylvania where abortion remains legal. She weighed her reaction to the decision.

“While my college, quite rightly, has a policy of not taking sides in politics – the college does not formally endorse political candidates or comment on Supreme Court decisions – I deeply regret, and personally believe , that our country will come to regret that a medical procedure has become the subject of legislation and litigation,” Meade wrote in an email to Various. “I speak as a philosopher who has engaged for decades with the moral imperative of human autonomy and female agency and who has a deep personal and professional commitment to equity. I speak in as the president of a women’s college whose mission revolves around equal access to opportunity for women, so I speak in a personal and professional capacity.

At Massachusetts-based Bay Path University, which offers an undergraduate program for women, the president has yet to issue an official statement regarding the Dobbs decision. However, Bay Path President Dr. Sandra J. Doran had hosted a forum in response to the United States Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion on the annulment. deer in May. Abortion remains legal in Massachusetts.

“Our entire mission is based on the principle that women should be empowered to imagine, shape and own their lives,” Doran said in a statement announcing the forum to the campus community.

A Bay Path undergrad has spoken out about her reaction to the end of federal abortion protections — and what it means for today’s many students like her.

“I’ve had conversations with my friends, and we’re all nervous, we’re all scared,” said Diane Almonte Arias, a 20-year-old senior at Bay Path. “All my friends want to have kids, but not now. And is this the world I would even want to bring my daughter to? One where if I don’t live in the right state, and if my daughter miscarries, she might not be getting the right care? Or where she’s too scared to be sexually active and free because of it? A lot of people on campus are watching this closely – and we’re just hoping for the best. Which is horrible. shouldn’t be like this.

Eleven other women’s colleges did not respond to Variousrequests for comment per press hour. Four other colleges declined to comment – three confirmed that the institution had yet to issue an official statement regarding the Dobbs decision (Mount Mary University, Notre Dame of Maryland University and Cottey College).

Rebecca Kelliher can be reached at [email protected]