The declaration Roe v. Stanford Medicine’s Wade draws criticism

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Stanford students and faculty slam the university’s medical school for a letter released in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision that will lead to restrictions on the procedure in many states across the country.

Perhaps in response to the criticism, Stanford Medicine administrators then sent out a near-apology statement on Sunday night, saying they wanted to add “additional perspective” to their previous comments.

The saga began hours after Friday’s ruling, when Dr Lloyd Minor – the dean of the university’s medical school – sent a letter to the Stanford community that critics said paid excessive attention to the sentiments of anti-abortion advocates and seemed to imply that the university’s medical center would continue to perform the procedure only because California law requires it.

“First, we want to acknowledge that this is a controversial issue,” the letter reads. “We know that many members of our community have strong opinions and process news differently. At this time, we just want to express our care and concern for members of our community, appreciating that people are feeling a range of feelings. emotions and have different needs.”

In a later paragraph, the letter says access to abortion on the Stanford campus remains unchanged despite the ruling.

Stanford law professor Michele Dauber posted a copy of the letter to Twitter, saying it was “offensive”. In an email to SFGATE, Dauber said the letter did not go far enough to reaffirm the importance of abortion access as a health care need.

“I think Stanford’s statement on this that they would ‘follow California law’ is weak sauce,” she said. “It would have been more appropriate in my opinion to reaffirm that abortion care is essential health care for women, rather than … leaving the impression that abortion is a controversial issue and that Stanford.. .provides services only because a state law requires it to do so.”


The letter was also signed by Dr. Jim Jacobs, executive director of the Stanford Student Health Center. In the university’s following Sunday statement, signed by Minor, Stanford Health Care CEO David Entwistle and Stanford Children’s Health CEO Paul King, the trustees adopted a conciliatory tone.

“First and foremost, we strongly believe that reproductive care, including access to safe abortion, is essential health care,” they wrote. “Limiting it negatively impacts the health of women and all who seek reproductive services in profound and immeasurable ways. Stanford Medicine will continue to provide comprehensive reproductive health care services to the fullest extent of California law. “

This statement was sent to the “Stanford Community of Medicine,” but it’s unclear which students and staff received a copy on Sunday evening.

Dauber said she wishes administrators didn’t need to face a backlash before declaring abortion services essential health care.

“Once again, Stanford’s first reaction to a threat to women’s rights is to downplay the threat and it is only after an outcry from faculty and students that they realize their reaction initial was appalling,” she said in an email. “I hope I live to see the day when Stanford’s first reaction is one that values ​​women, but I doubt I will.”

Incoming second student Eva Jones told SFGATE she found the initial letter disheartening.

“It seems very clear that our administration has no interest in providing support to win back civil liberties for the American public,” she said. “I was really disappointed to see that. It was a little disgusting, to be honest.”

Jones supported Dauber’s comments on the university’s later statement, pointing out that it had come to his attention from a member of the press and had not been sent to his student email.

“Once again, I reiterate that Stanford’s original statement left its students to fend for themselves,” she said in a subsequent email. “This kind of damage will require more than an unattainable recovery. I look forward to seeing Stanford use its institutional, monetary and educational power to fight for its nation’s basic civil liberties.”

Sarae Sinville, another incoming sophomore, said she found the initial letter particularly concerning because it was written by medical professionals employed by the university.

“I think that’s the worst,” she told SFGATE. “The people we trust to perform these procedures are the ones who call it ‘controversial’ and hide behind the fact that they’re only doing it because it’s in accordance with California law.”

Responding to a request for comment on the university’s second statement, Sinville simply said, “I never received that email.”

On Twitter, another Stanford faculty member – lecturer Rebecca Richardson – contrasted the initial letter with a statement released by Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, who called the Supreme Court’s decision a “devastating setback for women. Americans”. Christ’s declaration, Richardson said, is a good example of how college administrators should respond to events that affect their communities.

“I found it so, so offensive this morning,” she wrote in response to Dauber’s initial tweet. “A colleague sent me the message from Berkeley – which is a model example of how to stand up for equity and social justice in these times. Instead of cowardly statements of milquetoast, both sides of the issue. ”

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