University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and Michigan Medicine CEO Marschall S. Runge said providing safe, high-quality reproductive health care remains a top priority following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 1973 abortion-rights case Roe v. Wade.
“I strongly support access to abortion services, and I will do everything in my power as president to ensure we continue to provide this critically important care,” Coleman said in response to the June 24 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
“Our campus is more than half women; we care about our own communities as well as those we serve through clinical care and education. I am deeply concerned about how prohibiting abortion would affect U-M’s medical teaching, our research, and our service to communities in need.”
Runge said while the court’s decision allows states to issue new abortion restrictions, the procedure remains legal in Michigan and an important component of patient care at Michigan Medicine.
“Today, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overruling the Roe v. Wade decision, the historic 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion in the United States,” Runge said in a message to the Michigan Medicine community.
“This action by the court does not ban abortions nationwide. It does, however, allow states to restrict or ban abortions in ways not permitted under Roe and in manners that will significantly limit access to reproductive care nationwide.
“U-M Health remains committed to providing high-quality, safe reproductive care for patients, across all their reproductive health needs. This includes abortion care, which remains legal in Michigan while challenges to various state-law criminal statutes continue to proceed. Michigan Medicine will continue to offer these services, based on Michigan court rulings.”
Runge, who also is dean of the Medical School and the university’s executive vice president for medical affairs, said the health system remains focused on meeting patients’ needs.
“Many of the patients we see are diagnosed with fetal anomalies or experience other complications that make ongoing pregnancy and giving birth dangerous, or they have serious underlying illnesses or other needs that make abortion care in an outpatient facility not possible,” he said. “At Michigan Medicine’s hospitals, we primarily provide abortions for patients who need hospital-level care. Our commitment is to be there for those who need the specialized care we can offer.
“We will continue to monitor activity in the courts at both the national and state levels that may affect the care and education we are able to provide.”
After a leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s opinion made national news last month, Coleman and Runge established a universitywide task force on abortion-care access.
Members of the task force have been monitoring legal decisions and examining and planning for how an abortion ban could affect clinical care, educational instruction, student health and more.
The task force includes leaders from Michigan Medicine’s clinical teams and the Medical School, as well as the Office of General Counsel, Human Resources and University Health Services. It also includes faculty members and students from the LSA departments of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies, the School of Information, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and Library Health Sciences.