June 25, 2022
Dear Brown School of Public Health Community,
We write today in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that has deep implications for reproductive health care across our country. With the ruling overturning Roe v. Wade’s federal protections for abortions, this is a critical moment to assert our commitment as a community to the science of public health, medicine, and the importance of our work in addressing racial and social health disparities.
It is unequivocal that the health of pregnant individuals and children depends on access to obtaining safe and effective reproductive care. Already, the U.S. has one of the highest maternal mortality rates of any developed country, especially for women of color. Evidence shows that state laws and regulations limiting or impacting abortion create more barriers to obtaining safe and effective reproductive care. Women with unintended pregnancies are less likely to receive needed prenatal care, can be at higher risk for medical complications, and are more likely to experience poor neonatal outcomes.
The full health consequences of today’s decision will not be known for years, but our school community remains steadfast in its commitment to improving the health of all, and this will be reflected in our scholarly, educational, and community-based work.
It is deeply embedded in our School’s mission to advance health as a human right for all. This means a commitment to supporting access to safe and effective reproductive care; confronting gaps in medical care that have implications for health equity; continuing to support medical care for individuals for whom pregnancy poses health risks; and doing all that we can to support the choices that people are able to make about how and when to become parents.
We would like to highlight that the State of Rhode Island passed a law in 2019 that grants someone who is pregnant the right to choose an abortion up to the point of fetal viability or to “preserve the health or life” of the pregnant individual.
We close with the important reminder that the University provides physical and emotional health and wellbeing resources, some of which are listed below, as well as a wide array of health benefits and services to community members studying or residing in Rhode Island. These long-established resources and benefits are available for a range of medical services and interventions, including reproductive health.
We will also work with our reproductive care experts at the school, the University, and in our Rhode Island community to offer programming in the coming months that will provide opportunities to discuss and learn about the science and practice of reproductive care.
We are committed to ensuring that all members of our community, both here at Brown and beyond, have access to resources and support to make the decisions that are right for them.
Ronald Aubert, Ph.D., MSPH
Megan L. Ranney, MD, MPH