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Stanford Medicine leaders convene expert committee on reproductive health

A new Stanford Medicine committee is addressing medical, equity, safety, legal and other concerns arising from the Supreme Court ruling on abortion.

- By Erin Digitale

A StanfordMedLIVE event on reproductive care in the wake of the Supreme Court's overurning Roe v. Wade included the announcement of the Stanford Medicine Committee on Reproductive Health Access and Equity.

Stanford Medicine leaders have convened a committee of experts to address health care and health equity challenges raised by changes in many states’ abortion laws.

The committee was formed in response to the June 24 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, resulting in stark reductions to abortion access in many U.S. states. (Read a statement from Stanford Medicine leaders about the decision.) Although California has laws that protect abortion access, the ruling has raised concerns for many medical providers in the state.

The Stanford Medicine Committee on Reproductive Health Access and Equity was announced at an Aug. 23 StanfordMed LIVE event.

“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 remarks at the event. “We are committed to enabling access to that care to the fullest extent of California law and to supporting science-backed health policies.”

Minor is one of three executive sponsors of the committee, 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, the leaders underscored the medical center’s commitment to providing comprehensive reproductive health care, acknowledged the uncertainty triggered by the shifting legal landscape, and recognized the health care industry’s annual celebration of women that kicks off Sept. 1.

“I want to acknowledge Women in Medicine month and Stanford Health Care’s extraordinary 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 harmful consequences for all of health care.”

A critical part of care

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 a constantly evolving situation, David, Lloyd and I are committed to working with the committee to identify how our institution can support reproductive health in our community and beyond,” he said.

The committee is being led by Yvonne Maldonado, MD, professor of pediatrics and of epidemiology and population health; Priya Singh, chief strategy officer and senior associate dean of Stanford Medicine; and Leslee Subak, MD, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology.

“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 during the event. “Revoking essential abortion care puts women, people who can become pregnant, and all those who rely upon reproductive health services in harm’s way. This is especially true for our most vulnerable populations.”

Subak voiced her concern about loss of reproductive care for women and sexual and gender minorities. “This is a critical time to ensure that everyone has reproductive choices,” Subak said. “Empowering people with reproductive choice enables them to do so much with their lives.”

The committee has been charged with assessing the needs and concerns of diverse stakeholder groups, including Stanford Medicine employees, who are affected by current legal decisions and are soliciting input on actions they should take in the near and long term.

The committee will identify how Stanford Medicine can:

  • support equitable, comprehensive, evidence-based reproductive care that protects the safety of patients, faculty, trainees and staff across the organization;
  • inform the development of programs and initiatives that address the needs of all stakeholders touched by Stanford Medicine’s mission, with a special focus on supporting the most vulnerable groups;
  • identify repercussions of legal decisions on our local, regional, national and global community, including access to care and research and education programs; and
  • outline opportunities to support reproductive health research, training and education, through its leadership of the biomedical revolution in precision health. 
     

The committee’s 25 members include Stanford experts in several branches of medicine, nursing, diversity and equity, bioethics, law, government affairs, information technology, university and hospital administration, and employee relations.

The committee’s work will result in a set of recommendations that it will share with Minor, Entwistle and King. In addition, the committee will provide Stanford Medicine health care workers with updated information about the effects of the legal changes in reproductive health, as well as with ongoing communication about the outcomes of their work.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care, and Stanford Children's Health. For more information, please visit the Office of Communications website at http://mednews.stanford.edu.

2022 ISSUE 1

Understanding the world within us

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