Dear fellow women faculty members,
As Chancellor Martin wrote last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization “is sending a shockwave through our country that is reverberating across the nation and here in the St. Louis region, including within our Washington University community.” We are writing, as the Board of the AWF, to respond to the Chancellor’s communication to the community.
The Board of AWF finds the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court a blow to our body politic as women. This ruling initiates the loss of a constitutional protection—to the privacy afforded women in matters of reproductive healthcare over the past 50 years. It is already transforming the landscape of reproductive healthcare across the United States. Its impact on corporate and institutional communities can be measured already by the growing list of major companies and other organizations that have announced policy changes to offset the impact of the ruling on their workforce. We are all reeling in light of this momentous decision.
The unprecedented rollback of a human right makes roughly 50% of our population in the United States vulnerable in new and time-tested ways, and we are appalled by the ramifications. As you will be aware, the Supreme Court ruling “triggered” the immediate adoption within the state of Missouri of a law banning all non-medically necessary abortions. “Medical necessity” is determined by the government, not by the woman and her doctor, and may exclude reasons such as life-saving cancer treatment, ectopic pregnancy, and a host of other risks to the mother’s life.
We are writing to express our concern and our fears for the physical and mental health of all of the women faculty and their allies. In the interest of working, as Chancellor Martin wrote in his communication to the community, “toward productive solutions in support of our mission and our community,” we offer the following:
1. Community Diary: Share your thoughts, ideas, feelings, stories and calls to action here. This is an anonymous forum. We hope to aggregate some of these stories and use some of these ideas to better support women at this university and in this region. Refer to our email for the link.
2. Zoom Forums to meet and discuss possible avenues for action: Join us for one of these two Zoom meetings to process this together and discuss ways we might advocate for women moving forward. Refer to our email for the Zoom link.
Wednesday, June 29, 4-5 PM Central
Friday, July 1, 10-11 AM Central
3. A web page on the AWF website (under development) to share actions we can take individually, with a list of local initiatives and organizations.
Please, take care of yourselves, take care of others, and don’t hesitate to be in contact.
The Association of Women Faculty Board
Hillary Anger Elfenbein (president)
Seema Dahlheimer (incoming president)
Claudia Swan (incoming president)