|On Friday, leaders of the University of Colorado Medical School, including Chancellor Donald Elliman, released the following statement to students, faculty, and staff:|
As a health sciences campus that seeks to improve health in Colorado and beyond, we are focused on providing the highest quality clinical care to our patients, educating the next generation of healthcare providers to treat those patients and seeking to advance public health. It is a great privilege and profound responsibility to provide expertise, counsel and support to all who seek care from us as they make important and often difficult decisions about their health and healthcare. This is as true for reproductive and sexual health as it is for cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.
The ability to serve our patients and advance health in Colorado without interference or bias must be defended and preserved if we are to do our jobs to the best of our ability while ensuring no undue harm to those entrusting us with their care.
The foundation of our relationships with patients is a clear commitment to patient autonomy. Establishing the trust that is the basis of these relationships requires confidence that we are providing the best advice and presenting all available options, and that we are committed to preserving patient confidentiality and have the expertise to deliver the safest and best possible clinical care.
The recently announced Supreme Court opinion, which essentially overturns the precedent set by Roe v. Wade that has prevailed for almost 50 years, represents a major step backward for women’s rights. This opinion allows states to restrict patient autonomy and to insert government into the relationship between healthcare providers and patients. In many states, this opinion will restrict the ability to educate and train healthcare professionals in the full scope of reproductive health services.
The immediate impacts of this decision are completely predictable: a public health crisis – worse health outcomes for women of reproductive age and the widening of health disparities due in part to the costs of traveling out of state for care. The potential longer-range consequences are also extremely concerning: establishing the precedent of allowing legislatures and courts to further restrict personal autonomy and curtailing hard-won personal rights.
Recently enacted legislation in Colorado will preserve the rights of women in our state to make their own healthcare decisions. We anticipate, however, an influx of patients and trainees from out of state because of existing state statutes that will go into immediate effect in states near Colorado. Those statutes will limit the ability of women to access a full range of reproductive services and of training programs to educate healthcare providers to safely and expertly provide those services.
At the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, we recognize health as a human right and advocate for the continued ability of all people in this country to access the healthcare they need when they need it without barriers, without exceptions, and free from the influence of political decisions made without adequate attention to their perilous and immediate impacts.
As we work to address the damage this court opinion will cause, we do so with an unwavering commitment to preserve our patients’ access to quality healthcare, and to sustain the ability of health providers to deliver personalized, evidence-based care in all areas of health and medicine. Indeed, it is our undeniable duty to do so.
This is a tremendously challenging time in our history, with many weighty issues vying for space in the national conversation. As we navigate our current circumstances as a campus and as individuals, remember that there are resources available for those seeking support. Let us take care of ourselves and support one another.
John J. Reilly, Jr.
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
Dean, School of Medicine
Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs
Dean, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Dean, Graduate School
Dean, School of Dental Medicine
Dean, College of Nursing
Dean, Colorado School of Public Health