Dear Rice Community,
Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, giving individual states the authority to regulate abortion services. In the time that’s followed, I have heard from students, faculty, staff, alumni and others as they have sought to understand the implications of this change on Rice’s ability to support the reproductive health needs of our community.
In 2021, Texas banned abortion after the detection of cardiac activity, which normally occurs after about six weeks of pregnancy. On Aug. 25, Texas' "trigger" law, which raises the penalty for performing abortions, went into effect. The law establishes civil and criminal penalties for performing banned abortions and prohibits nearly all abortions, with few exceptions. The law does not apply to individuals seeking abortions.
To better understand the impact these developments have on our community and to determine how Rice will navigate and manage the implications, I have created a reproductive health working group. Given the complex and changing nature of these issues, the working group will begin by understanding the new legal and health care environment to address the questions that have arisen in our community, to provide guidance to leadership on how these changes affect the broader educational and research mission at Rice, and to determine how to best support our community in their reproductive health choices.
What seems certain is that the legal landscape surrounding access to abortion services and other aspects of reproductive health care choices will continue to evolve. As such, the working group I am forming will have no set end date and will remain a resource for the foreseeable future.
Provost Amy Dittmar and Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman will co-chair the working group, which also includes the following members:
- Rachel Kimbro, Dean of Social Sciences
- Seiichi Matsuda, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
- Joan Nelson, Associate Vice President for Human Resources
- Omar Syed, Vice President and General Counsel
- Linda Thrane, Vice President for Public Affairs
- Allison Vogt, Associate Dean of Students and Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Members of the working group will update the Rice community as additional information is known about the changing reproductive health care climate in Texas and the nation, and will publicize the resources for reproductive health that are available at Rice. I’d like to thank the members of the working group for contributing their time and thoughtful effort to this important issue for our university community.
We know the changes to reproductive health rights have been distressing and confusing to many members of our community. We also know there are a range of perspectives on this issue. As a community of students and scholars, it is important for us to have a rigorous and open dialogue about the changes, and better understand how we can support our students, faculty and staff in their reproductive health and well-being.
We appreciate your patience as we assess these challenges and provide appropriate guidance on how to move forward. Members of the working group will be in touch in the coming weeks with a method to facilitate discussion and solicit feedback from the Rice community on this issue.
President Reginald DesRoches