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Friday, December 09, 2022 — Houston, TX

DesRoches creates working group on reproductive health

Channing Wang / Thresher

By Ben Baker-Katz     8/30/22 11:26pm

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

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

The group will be co-chaired by Provost Amy Dittmar and Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman. Additional members include Rachel Kimbro, dean of social sciences, Seiichi Matsuda, dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies, Joan Nelson, associate vice president for human resources, Omar Syed, vice president and general counsel, Linda Thrane, vice president for public affairs and Allison Vogt, associate dean of students and deputy Title IX coordinator.

The current Texas abortion ban, which went into effect last Thursday, prohibits the performance of an abortion except in the instance of a “life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy.” That definition, however, has proved confusing for physicians when determining in what cases they are legally allowed to perform an abortion.

As it presently stands, the nearest abortion clinic to Houston is in Wichita, Kansas — a nine hour and 10 minute drive from the Rice campus. The next closest clinic is in Santa Teresa, New Mexico — an 11 and a half hour drive from campus. 

According to Gorman, the group plans to provide a process through which members of the campus community can submit questions to the working group.

“We will use the questions that come, as well as those we’ve already received, as a springboard for organizing initial and ongoing activities in the time 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 use.”

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