Speeches & Writings

Responding to today’s Supreme Court ruling

Dear Washington University community,

Today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is sending a shockwave through our country that is reverberating across the nation and here in the St. Louis region, including within our Washington University community. There are arguably few more divisive and emotional issues in the United States today than abortion. It elicits passionate responses from individuals on all sides of the debate, which is too frequently reduced to polarized points of view with little to no room for constructive dialogue. As an institution of higher education with a strong commitment to medical education and patient care, it is incumbent upon us to rise above the politically charged tenor of the current conversation and work toward productive solutions in support of our mission and our community.

While acknowledging that this is a painful moment for many in our society as we grapple with serious moral, philosophical, and deeply personal issues, at the same time we must keep our focus squarely on the mission of the university — research, education, and patient care. We are resolute in our commitment to advance our work in support of these three fundamental pillars. We are currently reviewing today’s ruling to determine what steps we may need to take to ensure that we can continue to provide world-class patient care to the communities we serve.

We know there are strong feelings among many in our community who are feeling frustrated, disappointed, and even scared of what this decision may mean. We also know that, as a university that places great value on diversity of thought and opinion, we are far from homogeneous in our points of view on this or any topic. During uncertain times, especially when we find ourselves in disagreement, it is critically important for us to come together as the supportive community that we know Washington University to be. 

We fully support the free expression of ideas among members of our community and will facilitate respectful dialogue and debate on our campuses. In the coming days and weeks, we will share information about opportunities for our community to engage in deeper discussion of the critical issues raised by this decision. In the meantime, we encourage anyone who needs support to reach out for assistance. Danforth Campus students can contact Habif Health and Wellness Center or utilize TimelyCare, which has licensed physicians and counselors available 24/7. Medical Campus students should contact Student Health Services, and support for faculty and staff is available through the Employee Assistance Program, Work-Life Solutions.

As we all process and learn more about the implications of this decision, we know there will be many questions. Our greatest hope is that we will come together as a community to find the answers and move forward with empathy, care and compassion for one another. 


Andrew D. Martin, PhD

David H. Perlmutter, MD
Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and Dean, School of Medicine