The commission was created in response to the June 24 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, which resulted in a sharp reduction in access to abortion in many U.S. states. (Read a statement from Stanford Medicine leaders about the decision.) While California has laws protecting access to abortion, the ruling has raised concerns among many medical providers in the state.
The Stanford Medicine Committee on Reproductive Health Access and Equity was announced at a StanfordMed LIVE event on Aug. 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 address at the event. “We are committed to enabling access to that care to the fullest extent of California law and supporting evidence-based health policies.”
Minor is one of the committee’s three executive sponsors, 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, leaders underscored the medical center’s commitment to providing comprehensive reproductive health care, acknowledged the uncertainty created by the changing legal landscape, and recognized the annual celebration of women in healthcare that kicks off Sept. 1.
“I want to recognize Women in Medicine Month and Stanford Health Care’s outstanding women clinicians — including those who provide vital reproductive health services to patients in our community,” Entwistle said. “The restriction of these services has profound and damaging consequences for the entire healthcare system.”
A crucial part of healthcare
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 determine how our institution can support reproductive health in our community and beyond,” he said.
The committee is led by Yvonne Maldonado, MD, professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and public health; Priya Singh, chief strategy officer and senior associate dean of Stanford Medicine; and Leslee Subak, MD, chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department.
“Like many others, the loss of Roe v. Wade has left me deeply concerned, not only on a personal level but as a medical professional,” Maldonado, senior associate dean for faculty development and diversity, said at the event. “Withdrawal of essential abortion care puts women, people of childbearing potential and anyone who depends on reproductive health care at risk. This is especially true for our most vulnerable populations.”
Subak expressed concern about the loss of reproductive care for women and sexual and gender minorities. “This is a critical time to make sure everyone has reproductive choices,” Subak said. “Empowering people to make reproductive choices allows them to do so much with their lives.”
The committee is tasked with assessing the needs and concerns of diverse stakeholder groups, including Stanford Medicine employees, who are affected by current legal decisions and seek input on actions they should take in the near and long term.
The committee will determine how Stanford Medicine:
- support equitable, inclusive, evidence-based reproductive care that protects the safety of patients, educators, interns, and staff across the organization;
- inform the development of programs and initiatives that meet the needs of all stakeholders affected by Stanford Medicine’s mission, with a special focus on supporting the most vulnerable groups;
- identify the impact of legal decisions on our local, regional, national and global community, including access to care and research and education programs; and
- outlining opportunities to support reproductive health research, training and education through its leadership in the biomedical revolution in precision health.
The committee’s 25 members include Stanford experts in various fields of medicine, nursing, diversity and justice, 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 professionals with updated information about the effects of regulatory changes in reproductive health, as well as ongoing communication about the results of their work.