We are deeply concerned about the recent Supreme Court ruling, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and its impact on the school-based health care field. This decision, and the subsequent “trigger laws” enacted by nearly half of the states to effectively ban abortion, will create a climate of fear and anxiety for many women, adolescents, families and health care providers and exacerbate the nation’s existing mental health epidemic.
These restrictions are disproportionately harmful to low-income, rural, Black and Brown communities who already experience additional barriers to health care. Many of these women, children and families live in states that have effectively outlawed abortion since the Court’s ruling and consistently rank at the bottom for numerous child health, maternal health and poverty indicators. We predict these restrictions will only worsen these outcomes and continue the cycle of intergenerational poverty for many families.
To be clear, school-based health centers (SBHCs) do not provide abortion services (surgical or medication), and never have. They are explicitly defined in federal law as entities that do not perform abortion. While some SBHCs provide contraceptive and other reproductive health services, decisions to provide specific services are made at the community level, in accordance with state and local policies. Parents must consent for their child to receive care in an SBHC, and parental involvement is encouraged by SBHC providers.
Our vision is that all children and adolescents are healthy and achieving at their fullest potential. We believe that reproductive autonomy is fundamental to this goal and should not be determined by the government.
For more information on Sexual and Reproductive Health Care in School-Based Health Centers, please see our Position Statement.