Stanford Medicine leaders have convened an expert committee to address health care and health equity challenges raised by changes in many states’ abortion laws.
The committee was formed in response to the June 24 US Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, resulting in significant reductions in abortion access in many US states. Although California has laws protecting the possibility of abortion, the decision has raised concerns for many medical providers in the state.
The Stanford Medicine Committee on Reproductive Health Access and Equity was announced at a StanfordMed LIVE event on August 23.
“At Stanford Medicine, we recognize reproductive care—including safe access to abortions—as essential health care,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, in his opening remarks at the event. “We are committed to enabling access to that care to the fullest extent of California law and to supporting science-backed health policies.”
Minor is one of three executive sponsors of the committee, along with David Entwistle, president and CEO of Stanford Health Care, and Paul King, president and CEO of Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. At the event, executives underscored the medical center’s commitment to providing comprehensive reproductive health care, acknowledged the uncertainty caused by the changing legal landscape, and recognized the annual celebration of women in the healthcare industry that begins Sept. 1.
“I want to thank Women in Medicine Month and Stanford Health Care’s incredible clinics — including those that provide vital reproductive health services to patients in our community,” Entwistle said. “Limiting these services has profound and damaging consequences for all health care.”
A critical part of care
King noted that reproductive services are a critical part of the care provided to women and families at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. “While this is an ever-evolving situation, David, Lloyd and I are committed to working with the committee to identify how our institution can support reproductive health in our community and beyond,” he said.
The committee is chaired by Yvonne Maldonado, MD, professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and population health; Priya Singh, chief strategy officer and senior associate dean of Stanford Medicine; and Leslee Subak, MD, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology.
“Like many others, the loss of Roe v. Wade has deeply troubled me, not only on a personal level, but as a medical professional,” Maldonado, senior associate dean for faculty development and diversity, said at the event. “Revoking essential abortion care puts women, people who can become pregnant, and everyone who relies on reproductive health services at risk. This is especially true for our most vulnerable populations.”
Subak expressed her concern about the loss of reproductive care for women and sexual and gender minorities. “This is a critical time to ensure that everyone has reproductive choices,” Subak said. “Empowering people with reproductive choices enables them to do so much with their lives.”
The committee is charged with assessing the needs and concerns of various stakeholder groups, including Stanford Medicine employees, who are affected by current legal decisions and are seeking input on actions to take in the short and long term.
The committee will identify how Stanford Medicine can:
- support equitable, comprehensive, evidence-based reproductive care that protects the safety of patients, faculty, trainees, and staff across the organization;
- inform the development of programs and initiatives that address the needs of all stakeholders affected by Stanford Medicine’s mission, with a particular focus on supporting the most vulnerable groups;
- identify the consequences of legal decisions on our local, regional, national and global community, including access to care and research and education programmes; AND
- describe opportunities to support reproductive health research, training and education by leading the biomedical revolution in precision health.
The committee’s 25 members include Stanford experts in several fields of medicine, nursing, diversity and equity, bioethics, law, government affairs, information technology, university and hospital administration, and employee relations.
The committee’s work will result in a series of recommendations that it will share with Minor, Entwistle and King. In addition, the committee will provide Stanford Medicine health care workers with up-to-date information about the effects of legal changes on reproductive health, as well as ongoing communication about the results of their work.