Oberlin College and Conservatory President Carmen Twillie Ambar joined U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and a select group of higher education leaders Monday at the White House to discuss reproductive rights.
The presidents and chancellors of Dartmouth College, Reed College, Howard University, City University of New York, Tennessee State University, and University of California-Irvine also took part in the event.
In brief remarks at the opening session of the event, Ambar emphasized the unequal effects the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade will have on Oberlin students and all women.
“At Oberlin College, we are the nation’s first institution to be coeducational and we are the first predominantly white institution to fully admit Black students, so the Dobbs decision is about more than a woman’s right to choose for Oberlin's campus; it is about the fundamental and growing issues of inequity that the decision portends,” she said.
Ambar also pointed to the distinct role colleges and universities can play in leading a national discussion that reflects many perspectives and is informed by the wide variety of disciplines and expertise that define the liberal arts.
“In this singular moment, higher education has a responsibility to help America conduct a more civil dialogue about a woman’s right to make decisions about her own healthcare and dare I say about equity itself,” she said.
In Ohio, when Roe was overturned, a state law took effect making abortion illegal once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at approximately six weeks. At that time Ambar wrote to the campus community to say that Oberlin will continue to support the reproductive health needs of students, faculty, and staff.
After Monday’s opening session that included news media, Vice President Harris and the higher education leaders met privately to explore more closely the effects the Dobbs decision will have on students, and how institutions will respond.
Monday’s event was the latest of a half dozen meetings about reproductive rights that Harris has had in recent weeks with leaders from different fields.
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