Recent Supreme Court action

July 08, 2022

To the members of the MIT community,

Since the US Supreme Court’s recent action overturning the right to end a pregnancy, many members of our community have reached out to me. To a person, they have recounted a disorienting sense of anger, loss and anguish over the decision. They have expressed shock that the court upended American women’s long-standing expectations about their Constitutional rights, the healthcare available to them, and their ability to control their lives. And they have expressed their disappointment that I have made no public statement.

I have refrained from stating my own views for a simple reason: Within MIT, as in the nation, people’s views on abortion differ widely and are deeply felt; it would be impossible for me or anyone to speak on that subject for the people of MIT.

When I have written to our community on past occasions of national importance, it has been with the sense that I could channel our shared care and concern as a community. In this case I have not felt I could successfully achieve that aim and that in speaking I might inadvertently create new divisions.

However, it disturbs me that my silence may be misinterpreted as indifference to the intense distress of so many in our community. Indeed, I believe that – whatever one’s views on the question of abortion – we must take very seriously the fact that this ruling may have far-reaching effects on the ability of women to function as they have been accustomed to as equal citizens. This feels especially salient for us as members of an institution that has worked thoughtfully over decades to advance gender equality in our community.

I ask that we all recognize that this is no ordinary moment – and that it will take the utmost effort to find a way forward together.

The laws of our home state, Massachusetts, will prevent the ruling from having immediate practical impact here. As MIT Medical conveyed to all their patients, MIT will continue to assist faculty, staff and students with the full range of reproductive health information and access to reproductive health options. You can find more information here.


L. Rafael Reif