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UW Medicine Responds to Supreme Court Decision on Abortion

Today’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey will have significant impacts nationally on healthcare justice, affecting the health, financial stability, and opportunity for many people across the country. These impacts will fall disproportionately on women, people of color, and those who are unable to travel out-of-state for their medical care. In the wake of this decision, UW Medicine leadership reaffirms our support for access to abortion care as part of a full continuum of reproductive healthcare services.

We will continue our current practice of broad access to abortion for our patients, where permissible, and seek to minimize any impact this change will have on our teaching programs and the provision of abortion care for our clinicians, faculty and staff.

The Court’s decision does not affect abortion services provided in Washington, which are protected under state law. However, we recognize that there may be implications for UW faculty, clinicians, residents and students in the WWAMI region outside of Washington, as well as patients from states who may seek care in Washington because of this decision.

UW Medicine has convened a team including clinicians, faculty and attorneys to review the Supreme Court decision and provide guidance to ensure that all faculty, clinicians, residents, students and staff are aware of implications for the practice and teaching of reproductive care within Washington as well as the other WWAMI states. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available. In the meantime, we affirm the following:

An individual’s right to an abortion:

We will continue to support the principle that everyone should have full access to the healthcare services they need, including reproductive care. We also believe that all medical decisions, including the decision to have an abortion, should be a decision made by a pregnant individual with the support of their clinician.

Patients in Washington will continue to be able to access abortion services. However, we recognize there will be impacts to patients in many other states. Changes to laws in these states may have implications for UW Medicine clinicians traveling to care for patients who live in other states or providing care through telemedicine. We also recognize there could be an increase in non-resident patients seeking reproductive care in Washington. We will be developing information to guide our UW Medicine clinician community as we navigate abortion restrictions imposed in other states.

Our students, residents, and fellow trainees will continue to learn about all aspects of reproductive healthcare:

As an integrated clinical, research and learning health system, UW Medicine is committed to training the next generation of healthcare professionals, and we believe that our medical students, residents and fellow trainees must learn about all aspects of reproductive healthcare, including family planning, contraception and abortion, to care for patients effectively and responsibly.

The Supreme Court’s decision will not affect the School of Medicine’s curriculum. Our medical students learn about abortion in a classroom setting. Medical students are not required to participate in abortion care; however, those who request clinical exposure to abortion will continue to be able to receive this training in Washington, as they do today.

Currently, there are regional variations in what students are taught during their clerkships, depending on the clerkship site and where they are located in the WWAMI region. For example, Catholic institutions in all states do not teach abortion care. Some OB/GYN and Family Medicine clerkship sites in states where abortion care was available will no longer offer abortion care to patients, and those educational opportunities may no longer exist. We do not anticipate any curriculum changes for residents in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Family Medicine or for our fellows in Complex Family Planning and Reproductive Health Education in Family Medicine (RHEDI), as these programs currently train exclusively within Washington.

We do not yet know how the Court’s decision may impact Family Medicine residents in the other WWAMI states of Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. While Idaho and Wyoming have laws limiting abortion access that became effective when Roe v. Wade was overturned, we will need to see how the leaders in those states enforce their laws. Each state will have its own authority to limit, restrict or preserve abortion access, and we will be watching to be sure that we understand how any changes in the law will impact our teaching and clinical care activities, particularly in the WWAMI region. UW Medicine’s leadership remains committed to providing teaching, training and access to reproductive healthcare to the full extent permitted by law and will provide additional information as it becomes available.

We understand the significance of this decision and that many of our faculty and staff may have strong feelings about it. Please see our Reproductive Services Q&A for more information. Resources for faculty and staff are available at the School of Medicine Employee Mental Health Resources website to support members of our community who are grappling with the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Thank you for your continued commitment and work on behalf of our patients and students.

Sincerely,

Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.
CEO, UW Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and
Dean of the School of Medicine, University of Washington

Lisa Brandenburg
President, UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics
Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

Timothy H. Dellit, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer, UW Medicine
Executive Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs, School of Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington
President, UW Physicians

Jacqueline Cabe
Chief Financial Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

Ruth Mahan, J.D.
Chief Business Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

Don Theophilus, J.D.
Chief Advancement Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

Paula L. Houston, Ed.D.
Chief Equity Officer, Office of Healthcare Equity, UW Medicine
Associate Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

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