Message from President Decatur Regarding Supreme Court Decision


To members of the Kenyon College community,

As most of you are surely aware, on Friday the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade (1973) and upheld in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). Some of you may also know that, due to the lifting of a federal injunction blocking a previously passed statewide “heartbeat” bill, abortions are now illegal in Ohio once fetal cardiac activity can be detected (about six weeks into a pregnancy), with exception only to save the life of a patient.

While the Court’s ruling was not entirely unexpected due to a draft opinion leaked in May, it is still jarring to have a right enshrined for nearly half a century altogether eliminated. Many people are also understandably concerned about what this may mean for future cases revisiting the rights to contraception, same-sex marriage and more. This decision was issued the day after the nation marked the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the civil rights law aimed at removing barriers of discrimination based on sex that limited opportunity for many women. Yet research has shown that the denial of women’s rights to make decisions on reproduction creates barriers and reduces educational access; reproductive rights are deeply intertwined with educational rights.

Kenyon is still assessing what this ruling and subsequent changes to Ohio law will mean for our students and employees, and we will issue further updates prior to the beginning of the fall semester. In the meantime, please consult with your medical provider about questions relating to pregnancy, reproductive health, access to medical care, and mental health services. Students may reach out to staff at the Cox Health and Counseling Center, where access to contraception, including emergency contraception, continues as before. The College chaplains and the Employee Assistance Program also are available to assist individuals in processing these developments. Kenyon continues to support the right of individuals to make their own medical decisions, and over the coming months we will work to understand what that means in this new environment. 

These are significant issues not only for all of us as individuals, but as matters of national policy. Members of the Kenyon community often lend their voices to debate, protest and advocacy at critical moments, and many of us may be moved to do so now. In keeping with our commitment to free expression, Kenyon supports the right of individuals to express their views and peacefully protest on this and other issues. As each of us processes our own mix of emotions, let us draw on the strength of this educational community, confronting matters of consequence with empathy, courage and integrity.


Sean Decatur