DesRoches creates a working group on reproductive health


Channing Wang / Drummer

By Ben Baker-Katz 8/30/22 11:26 PM

In an email sent to the Rice community Tuesday morning, President Reginald DesRoches announced the creation of a working group focused on reproductive health within the Rice community. DesRoches said that due to the evolving nature of legal issues surrounding access to abortion and other reproductive services, the group will operate for the foreseeable future.

“Given the complex and changing nature of these issues, the task force will begin by understanding the new legal and health care environment to address questions that have arisen in our community,” DesRoches said. “[The group will] provide guidance to leaders on how these changes affect Rice’s broader educational and research mission, and determine how best to support our community in their reproductive health choices.

The group will be co-chaired by Vice President Amy Dittmar and Dean of Undergraduate Students Bridget Gorman. Other members include Rachel Kimbro, Dean of Social Sciences, Seiichi Matsuda, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Joan Nelson, Associate Vice President of Human Resources, Omar Syed, Vice President and General Counsel, Linda Thrane, Vice President for Public Affairs and Allison Vogt, Associate Dean of Students and Assistant Title IX Coordinator.

Texas’ current abortion ban, which went into effect last Thursday, prohibits the performance of an abortion except in a “life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or resulting from pregnancy “. This definition, however, has proven confusing for doctors when trying to determine when they are legally allowed to perform an abortion.

As it stands, the closest abortion clinic to Houston is in Wichita, Kansas, a nine-hour, ten-minute drive from Rice’s campus. The next closest clinic is in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, an 11.5 hour drive from campus.

According to Gorman, the group plans to provide a process by which members of the campus community can submit questions to the task force.

“We will use the questions that come in, as well as those that we have already received, as a springboard to organize initial and ongoing activities in the times ahead,” Gorman said. “This will be an important first step for us as we consider how to support our community in terms of reproductive health education, pregnancy prevention and health care utilization.”

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