The Dobbs Decision: Looking Back and Moving Forward

July 14, 2023 — by Lindsay Paulsen, Media Logic

June 24, 2023, signified the one-year anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, concluding that the Constitution does not protect the right to abortion. As a result, individual states regained the power to regulate aspects of abortion not protected by federal law.

The aftermath of this decision was widespread social unrest, political turmoil and confusion among healthcare providers. Many experts were not only concerned about this regression in women’s rights and health equity but also about the medical care implications.

One year later, leaders across the country, including members of the Department of Medicine, continue to advocate for reproductive health through demonstrations, task forces, committees, education, written works and social media.

Department of Medicine Team Members Speak Out

Our faculty member and Special Advisor for DEI Programs Arghavan Salles, M.D., Ph.D., recently attended a rally in North Carolina with United States Vice President Kamala Harris and other leaders to continue the fight for reproductive freedom.

The rally featured leaders such as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Javier Becerra, Dr. Amy Bryant (a physician who provides abortion-care services in North Carolina), Representative Alma Adams, Representative Jeff Jackson, and others, all of whom spoke passionately about the need to restore the autonomy women across this country lost with the Dobbs decision last year. Vice President Harris reminded the audience that some of the trigger bans that immediately went into effect after the decision were quite old. Wisconsin's ban was from 1849, before lightbulbs, telephones, and the Civil War.

Echoing Harris’ points, Salles explains that this particular fight is not an isolated issue unique to individual states. In fact, it is a national problem that is also connected to larger concerns such as book bans, attacks on the LGTBQ community, voting rights and more.

“There’s obviously a ton of work to do here, but this was an important reminder that a lot of us are in this fight together, and we can’t give up,” says Salles, reflecting on the event.

Take a look inside Salles’ experience through her social media posts below (click on the images to access the full Instagram post content). We’re grateful for Salles and our other faculty members who, like her, are committed to speaking up for what they believe is right.

Advocacy on a Larger Scale

On an institutional level, the Department of Medicine remains committed to defending reproductive health, which includes safe access to abortions. In the wake of the Dobbs Decision, Stanford Medicine developed an expert council, known as the Stanford Medicine Committee on Reproductive Health Access and Equity, to address related health care and health equity challenges.

The committee includes experts spanning various disciplines including medicine, nursing, diversity, equity, bioethics, law, government affairs, information technology, university and hospital administration and employee relations.

“Revoking essential abortion care puts women, people who can become pregnant, and all those who rely upon reproductive health services in harm’s way,” says the Department of Medicine’s Yvonne Maldonado, MD, who leads the committee. “This is especially true for our most vulnerable populations.”

Since its establishment, the committee has aimed to address the needs of the diverse stakeholders within our community, including Stanford Medicine employees who are impacted by the current legal landscape. Our expert group continues to explore evidence-based reproductive care, develop programs that assist our community, investigate the effects of legal decisions and identify opportunities to support reproductive health research, training and education.

We hope you will join us in standing up for reproductive health!