College Leaders Express Concern About the Impact of Supreme Court Ruling Overturning Abortion Rights
August 09, 2022

​A group of college presidents met with Vice President Kamala Harris Monday at the White House to discuss the consequences for colleges and students of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which struck down the constitutional right to an abortion and gave individual states full power to regulate the procedure.

Many college leaders objected in June after the Supreme Court’s ruling, and lawyers have since flagged the decision as creating major issues for colleges to address, Higher Ed Dive reported yesterday.

ACE President Ted Mitchell moderated Monday’s behind-closed-doors conversation. But first, Mitchell joined the vice president, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, and the college leaders in making public remarks, which you can watch below (begins at 21:45):

In addition to Mitchell, the higher education leaders present were Carmen Twillie Ambar, president of Oberlin College; Glenda Glover, president of Tennessee State University; Audrey Bilger, president of Reed College; Roberta Cordano, president of Gallaudet University; Wayne Frederick, president of Howard University; Howard Gillman, chancellor of the University of California at Irvine; Philip Hanlon, president of Dartmouth College; and Félix Matos Rodriguez, chancellor of the City University of New York.

Mitchell told Inside Higher Ed afterwards that the central focus of what he called a “really powerful and productive” meeting was on “providing accurate information to students and finding answers to new, complicated legal questions about what services college campuses can and cannot offer after the ruling on Dobbs.”

"Secretary Cardona and the Vice President both talked about the importance of collecting and disseminating accurate information so that students, faculty, and staff would know sort of what services are available under the law, what services are not, and to be able to get good information out quickly especially with the beginning of the school year upon us," Mitchell said.

Among the questions and concerns the presidents raised were the potential impacts to medical school programs, reproductive care available to students on campus, privacy laws, student mental health, and the impact on low-income women and women of color.

Many of the presidents whose colleges are in states where the right to abortion remains intact expressed concern with how the ruling could impact out-of-state students, Inside Higher Ed wrote.

President Biden recently signed two executive orders addressing abortion access, one of which will permit states to use Medicaid funds to help women travel to other states for an abortion. But, as Inside Higher Ed pointed out, questions remain on where students are protected and where they are not, especially given how quickly the legal landscape is changing in particular states.

“The clock is ticking on every campus and every university in America to figure out what can and cannot be done to support students, faculty, and staff,” Mitchell told Higher Ed Dive.

In the News

Meeting the Vice President on Abortion
Inside Higher Ed | Aug. 9, 2022

College Leaders Appear at White House to Discuss Dobbs Fallout
Higher Ed Dive | Aug. 8, 2022