UC San Francisco Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, and faculty joined U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jackie Speier at an Aug. 26 roundtable on health of women and the state of abortion care in the country.
The event, which coincided with Women’s Equality Day, was aimed at supporting women’s reproductive rights in light of the June 24 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down federal law at abortion, as well as nationwide movements to restrict other freedoms, such as birth control and marriage equality.
“Unimaginable pain is being inflicted on women across the country,” Speaker Pelosi said, noting the rise in the number of women registering to vote. “American women today are not as free as their mothers… This is an injustice we will not tolerate and cannot bear.”
Speakers included Eleanor Drey, MD, who directs the Women’s Option Center at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFG); Ushma Upadhyay, PhD, MPH, professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, who co-led the UCSF Turnaway Study of Long-Term Adverse Effects of Unintended Pregnancy; Asmara Gebre, nurse midwife at ZSFG; Gilda Gonzales, executive director of Planned Parenthood Northern California; and Shannon Olivieri Hovis, director of NARAL Pro-Choice California.
Access to evidence-based reproductive health services is a growing challenge for health equity, especially for communities of color, low-income women, and undocumented people.
Drey and Gonzales said their clinics are starting to see patients arriving for care from across the country, including Texas, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, where access to abortion has previously been severely restricted. restricted. Speakers estimate that current and planned abortion restrictions could affect up to 30 million women nationwide.
“Another downstream effect we’re starting to see is a drain of the OB/Gyn workforce from the forced birth states,” Drey said, noting that women’s health professionals are leaving those states because they are unable to offer the high level of care they are trained to provide or guide at-risk patients on all of their options.
“UCSF is nationally recognized for its abortion research,” added Upadhyay, social scientist in public health at UCSF. “And what the research shows is that the Supreme Court’s decision … goes directly against the science. Research shows knocking down Roe will be devastating to people and their families for years to come.
Attendees of the Mission Bay campus event also included Talmadge E. King, Jr., MD, Dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs, and Suresh Gunasekaran, Chief Executive Officer and president of UCSF Health.
“The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade overturned a crucial constitutional right that is already changing the way women access reproductive health care in many states across the country,” Chancellor Hawgood said. “As a result, access to evidence-based reproductive health services is a growing challenge for health equity, especially for communities of color, low-income women, and undocumented people. “