Dear Members of the YaleWomen Community,
We are at a moment in history that presents extraordinary challenges for women’s ability to control their health. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey has evoked strong emotions from those who support and those who oppose abortion. Many in our community, including the leadership of YaleWomen, are deeply concerned as it threatens the autonomy, rights, and health of all women and sets a precedent for other human rights to be dismantled. As Chair of YaleWomen and as a physician, I write now with my personal view.
As a physician, my duty and primary focus has been the care of my patients. In the United States, our maternal mortality rate is higher than any high-income country and is rising (23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020 compared to 20.1 in 2019) with rates nearly three times higher in Black mothers than in white mothers. The YaleWomen Council has recently completed our five-year strategic plan which includes a strong commitment to parity and health equity. Decisions about reproductive rights are now placed with the states, potentially exacerbating racial and socio-economic health disparities in access to reproductive healthcare for people of all genders. As YaleWomen, we have a shared experience of education and clearly value its importance. While the ruling will have wide implications, there is a gravity as it applies to higher education. Research has shown that since Roe v. Wade became law, access to abortion has increased the probability that young women experiencing unintended pregnancy finish college by nearly 20 percentage points and enter a professional occupation by nearly 40 percentage points.
I have a strong belief in the power of women and the value of including our perspective on important issues, a belief that has only deepened through my work with YaleWomen. On this issue, your perspective, as women, as YaleWomen leaders, is critical. I encourage you to use your voices to inform your elected representatives at both the state and federal levels concerning your views, whatever they are. I am so deeply grateful to be part of the YaleWomen community and appreciate how our members contribute to our mission. I welcome your thoughts as we continue our commitment to “advancing women’s voices and perspectives and to enriching and inspiring one another, Yale and the world.”
Susan Pepin MD, MPH
Chair of YaleWomen