“You wouldn’t choose a hotel that only has stairs and no elevator because it’s clear that that would be excluding some members”
Consider this a preview. This fall, abortion is going to be a hot topic in higher education.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:
To Boycott or Not? Academic Conferences Face Pressure to Avoid Abortion-Hostile States
Corinne Low, an assistant professor of business economics and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, sat down with her colleagues last month to discuss what Low said was the year’s biggest event for economists: the Allied Social Sciences Associations’ annual meeting, hosted by the American Economic Association. But they weren’t talking about presentations or forums or interviews. They were worried about the location.
The 2023 annual meeting was set to take place in New Orleans, where a Louisiana law banning nearly all abortions was about to take effect. The U.S. Supreme Court had just issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, revoking the constitutional right to abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years.
Many of Low’s colleagues had been pregnant at conferences. One had serious complications that required time in a hospital. They wondered if going to a state with restrictions on abortion would create disincentives for doctors to act to save pregnant women or their future fertility.
“The difference between if a doctor has to say, ‘I have to have a 99-percent chance the patient will die without intervention before I’m allowed to act,’ versus being able to say, ‘In my best medical judgment, the best thing to do is to act here’ — that difference is enormous,” Low said.
So Low and six of her colleagues drafted a letter to the economics association, demanding it relocate its 2023 meeting, and the 2024 meeting planned for San Antonio. They opened the letter to co-signers who vowed not to attend if the annual meeting was held in New Orleans while the abortion ban remained in place. The letter collected more than 1,000 co-signers by July 1.
And the AEA listened, Low said. The organization recommended that all first-round job-market interviews, a large appeal of the conferences, be held online. Now Low and her fellow economists are calling for the AEA conference to become fully hybrid.
“You wouldn’t choose a hotel that only has stairs and no elevator because it’s clear that that would be excluding some members,” Low said. “And you shouldn’t choose a place where certain people are differentially going to be unable to access health care.”
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