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In Support of Women and All Those Affected by the Loss of Reproductive Freedom

A statement from Dean Lim.

Facade of McKeldin Library.

Stated simply and factually, the US Supreme Court's recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, effectively shifts the authority for reproductive decisions from individual women and people who can become pregnant, to state governments.

A woman's constitutional right to choose abortion was recognized for nearly 50 years as legal precedent in our country and has now been eliminated. No matter how others may feel about this issue politically and morally, there is no denying that many of us within the library community and millions of people across the US are reacting with grief, outrage, and fear about this monumental change and about the rights that may be taken away next.

What does this development have to do with libraries?  I believe it has much to do with libraries, as we work diligently to support the holistic academic and life experiences and educational needs of our community members. Reproductive freedom has enabled women's liberty to shape their own lives and to participate as equals in society and higher education, and now this change has put the status of women into question and their health at risk, depending upon the state in which they happen to live.

Many of us in libraries also base our work on a strong belief in human rights, in the intrinsic worth and dignity of all people, in intellectual freedom, in people's equitable access to information, in science and evidence-based practices, and in the right to privacy. The removal of women's autonomy over their own bodies and health care cannot be compartmentalized from these other parts of life. The libraries I respect and admire stand up for social justice and human rights in all ways that matter, including now, when women's long-held right to reproductive health care and safe, legal abortion is under attack and when individuals with fewer financial resources and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities will be disproportionately affected.

Over the coming days, months, and years, I'm confident that many of us in the library community will work together to support women and others harmed by this ruling, and to act in positive ways to educate and activate changes that are in alignment with internationally-recognized human rights and the library community's stated values of social justice, equity, and inclusion.

Adriene Lim, PhD, MLIS
Dean of University Libraries
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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