UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman was among a group of higher education leaders that met with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House on Aug. 8 to discuss the challenges that students have faced since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.
Gillman previously discussed the ruling in a brief campus-wide email sent on June 24 after Roe was overturned.
“This morning’s Supreme Court decision overruling a precedent of almost 50 years protecting a woman’s right to choose abortion is tremendously consequential for tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people in this country,” he said.
Both Gillman and UC President Michael V. Drake said that the University of California would continue to provide all health care options available in the state of California. This announcement came as Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation further protecting the right to abortion in California.
The meeting at the White House was one of over half a dozen recently held by Harris to discuss reproductive rights, according to Reuters. The focus of the meeting was what colleges and universities are doing to protect students’ health, reproductive freedoms and access to reproductive health care.
The roundtable began with opening remarks by the Vice President about the abortion ruling.
“We must trust the women of America to make those most intimate decisions for themselves,” she said. “The government should not be making this decision for her.”
Harris specifically addressed how overturning Roe v. Wade would impact college-aged women.
“We know that women in college are uniquely impacted by restrictions on reproductive rights,” she said.
She also described the work colleges and universities have done regarding reproductive rights as “extraordinary.”
Harris then introduced Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and American Council on Education (ACE) president Ted Mitchell as moderators of the discussion.
“We must do everything possible to ensure that our students are safe and healthy, so they are able to learn and thrive,” Cardona said.
Each school leader was given one minute for an opening statement. Chancellor Gillman started his opening remarks by thanking Harris and Cardona for the gathering.
“We have very important research collaborations with institutions around the country that will be dramatically disrupted by [the Dobbs] decision,” Gillman said. “Many of our students, faculty and patients find themselves in other states, and we are now thinking hard about how to extend our support to our community when members of our community are in states that impose restrictions on care.”
Gillman also shared the impact the decision will have on UCI medical centers.
“Our medical centers anticipate a huge surge in out-of-state patients seeking access to reproductive care, and it is going to be a challenge for us to find the resources necessary to meet that demand,” he said.
In closing, Gillman addressed the legal protections of out-of-state patients and students using UCI Health facilities.
“The privacy protections around those student health facilities differ from those seen in other clinical settings,” he said. “We hope that we can work together to address these issues […] we are all deeply committed to ensuring that our students have access to safe, full, comprehensive state-of-the-art care for their reproductive well-being.”
Mohammad “Moh” Samhouri is a 2022-23 Copy Chief. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.