HBCUs respond to post-Roe realities

Kuttner Abortion Hospitals 071122Since the US Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade last month, ending nearly fifty years of abortion as a constitutional right, many historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are adjusting to this post-Roe landscape, pondering what it means to his students.

“It is incredibly disappointing to see the Supreme Court make a decision that is so out of step with the realities of the United States,” said Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, a private HBCU in Texas. “We are in charge of educating and preparing students to be able to navigate whatever reality they find themselves in. Unfortunately, the political motivation behind many decisions in this country runs counter to the demonstrated interests and desires of the majority of the people. And so we have to teach students to navigate through that.”

In September 2021, Texas became ground zero for the nation’s abortion battles. At that time, a state law known as SB 8 went into effect, prohibiting the termination of pregnancies after about six weeks. When the Supreme Court in June ruled to overturn Roe in Dobbsv. Jackson Women’s Healthseveral conservative-controlled state legislatures quickly passed Texas-like abortion laws or near-total bans on terminating pregnancies.

Many HBCUs are now in states that prohibit abortion. Studies also show that women of color disproportionately seek the majority of abortions in the US, often for financial reasons. A variety of investigations it has also found that denial of an abortion can limit a woman’s educational opportunities.

“While HBCUs are highly concentrated in regions of the US that are likely to limit access to reproductive services, HBCU college health providers are well versed in providing excellent care to students with resources. limited,” Dr. Tondra L. Moore, executive director of health services at Prairie View A&M University, a public HBCU in Texas, wrote by email to Diverse. “As with any medical situation encountered, HBCU university health providers will continue to provide services in alignment with applicable laws and regulations, as well as the mission of their respective institutions.”

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At Jackson State University (JSU), a public HBCU in Mississippi, Dr. Samuel Jones, director of health services there, said the Supreme Court’s decision “has not affected the services offered at Jackson State University.” ”. The health center provides JSU students with free contraceptives and contraceptive counseling. And the center “will continue to refer students requiring prenatal care to local OB/GYN clinics if they don’t have access to their own private doctors.”

But for pregnant people in Mississippi seeking abortions, there is no abortion clinic in the state that JSU can refer students to, if they ask. Questions remain in those states about what role universities play in supporting reproductive health care for students to continue their education.

“Our ultimate goal is to educate our students to make the best decisions for their personal health,” added Moore. “Therefore, we will reinforce our current health promotion and education activities to help students make the best possible choices.”

At Meharry Medical College, a private HBCU in Tennessee, Dr. Edward Hills spoke about the impact of dobbs decision to educate the next generation of physicians. Hills is a professor in Meharry’s department of obstetrics and gynecology. Many of her patients are women of color from low-income communities.

“Being in an institution that predominantly serves minorities in addition to being an OB/GYN, we are very concerned about this particular dobbs decision, and we’re in the process of adjusting to what we think is coming,” Hills said of graduate student education. “We intend to continue, of course, teaching what a doctor needs to know, both about the management of miscarriages and induced miscarriages, or what may now be called an abortion in some jurisdictions.”

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Tennessee has already banned abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, similar to SB 8 in Texas. A near-total ban on abortion is soon to be enacted in Tennessee due to a trigger law that RoeThe dump is set in motion.

“I think the guiding principle is that we are still doctors,” Hills said. “And our patients are still our patients, so we have to serve them as fully as possible given the legal restrictions.”

To teach reproductive health care, Hills noted that “things get more dangerous” when it comes to graduate medical students in states that ban abortion or have severe restrictions. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) published guidelines for teaching obstetrics and gynecology under such limitations.

“They have said that in those states where abortion is illegal, we need to send students to states where it is legal so they can get the training they need to learn how to perform and manage abortion, which is a great question.” Hills said, adding that ACGME said abortion simulations could also be allowed to train graduate students who are unable to travel.

the dobbs Additionally, the decision has caused confusion among many in the medical community around the legality of assisted reproductive technology, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

“Students need to learn about the technology needed to help women get pregnant, and that sometimes involves growing embryos outside the body,” Hills explained. “There will be issues around what I do with the remaining embryos. And what about surrogacy? We have to cover these areas academically.”

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Reflecting on the big picture, Sorrell at Paul Quinn also noted that the dobbs The ruling came on the heels of a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers. The setbacks around abortion rights, as well as gun control, have left him wondering about the role of universities at this time in the country.

“I think in higher education we have to ask ourselves some really fundamental questions,” Sorrell said. “I say it over and over again: All the people who are involved in this state of affairs right now, those on the Supreme Court, for example, went to American colleges and universities. partisan behavior. The unwillingness to collaborate or cross party lines. What have we done as institutions to contribute to this scenario? Because we have to take ownership of this. There is something we are doing wrong.”

Rebecca Kelliher can be reached at [email protected]