Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 23, 2024

We, Johns Hopkins student organizations advocating for reproductive justice, condemn the University’s choice of Mitt Romney as the 2024 commencement speaker. In particular, we are calling attention to Senator Romney’s damaging views on reproductive health which disproportionately affect marginalized communities. 

Romney voiced support for the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned the constitutional right to abortion. He has maintained this anti-abortion position since 2011, when he declared that “[he] support[s] the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine.”  

Abortion is healthcare. In the years since Roe was overturned, we’ve seen devastating effects. In a national survey of obstetricians and gynecologists, nearly seven out of ten providers have reported that the ruling limited their ability to manage pregnancy-related emergencies. The Dobbs decision deepened health inequities, exacerbating existing racial maternal mortality crises: Black and brown people who give birth are directly affected by the decreased access to reproductive care. The Dobbs decision also erodes constitutional protections for the right to medication abortions, and the rights to privacy and free speech. Justice Clarence Thomas also wrote in his concurrence in the Dobbs case that the same legal reasoning can be used to overturn the right to same-sex marriage.

The 2024 commencement will provide a platform to a policymaker who has espoused views that contradict the abundance of evidence establishing the importance of abortion care in safeguarding the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities. 

Hopkins provides abortion care to the Baltimore community and beyond. The choice of Mitt Romney as commencement speaker, thankfully, does not change this. We are not problematizing this choice as an isolated incident that affects only graduating students but, rather, as one that reflects the University’s willingness to abandon its supposed commitment to evidence-based public health while paying lip service to democratic dialogue. We also see this choice as one that reflects the University’s disregard of student organizing and advocacy. We call on the University to stand by its stated values rather than hiding behind bothsidesism while providing a platform for those with concretely harmful ideologies. 

If you are graduating this May or are a student who will be attending graduation, we encourage you to voice your support for reproductive rights by wearing pro-choice and Planned Parenthood pins that our organizations will distribute leading up to and on the morning of the event. 

As organizations, we stand by those we serve by increasing accessibility to sexual and reproductive health education and resources within the Hopkins and Baltimore communities. This work, regardless and in spite of the University’s misguided choices, will continue.  

In solidarity,

Wings (student-run menstrual health and equity nonprofit) 

Hopkins Sexual Assault Resource Unit (SARU) 

Advocates for Reproductive and Sexual Health (ARSH)

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