Dear Williams Community,
I am writing in the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, ending the right to legal abortion in the United States. For many in our community, including me, the news came as a shock even though we were aware this outcome was likely.
The Court’s ruling overturned a well-established Constitutional right and fifty years of case law, all backed by data showing strong public support for women’s right to choose. It also ignored substantial research findings on the negative health impacts of limiting reproductive care. Many people in the United States will now quickly lose longstanding legal protections and access to needed treatment options. Among those especially at risk will be the young, people of color and anyone who cannot afford interstate travel.
In the immediate aftermath of the Court’s ruling, I want to emphasize that the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts still guarantee women’s right to reproductive healthcare, including abortion. Indeed, Governor Baker issued an executive order yesterday reaffirming those protections. Williams will continue offering support to any student facing an unwanted pregnancy or other health challenge that leads them to seek an abortion, and guiding people to the resources they need. In the coming days, college staff will share information about a new website they are building to provide information about those options. The college also expects that benefits under the Williams healthcare plan will continue for employees. Finally, I am sure that when we reconvene next fall, there will be extensive campus attention to issues of reproductive healthcare, politics and constitutional law.
Speaking personally, I believe women have an absolute right to choices about their own health and lives. As Williams’ president, I acknowledge that many of you as members of this community have your own opinions on the subject, and we will continue to respect and defend each person’s right to voice their views.
As regards the Court’s decision, yesterday’s outcome reaffirms for me the need to tirelessly fight for, defend and reinforce guarantees—including Constitutional provisions—that enshrine human rights for all.