Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Before Roe: The History (and Future) of Abortion Access for University of Michigan Students

4:00 PM to 5:30 PM

Hybrid Event (in-person & zoom). For in-person attendees, the venue is Palmer Commons Forum Hall, an auditorium on the 4th floor. Forum Hall offers ADA-accessible seating on two levels in Forum Hall: on the main floor via the fourth-floor entrance as well as the rear of the auditorium via the fifth-floor entrance.  

For maps, directions, and parking, visit the Palmer Commons website.

Join U-M scholars and leaders for a conversation about the history of reproductive healthcare and access at the University of Michigan in the mid-20th century, when abortion was illegal, and lessons for the current post-Roe moment.


  • Rianna Johnson-Levy, Ph.D. student in History and Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Michigan
  • Christine S. Asidao, Ph.D., Associate Director of Community Engagement and Outreach, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), University of Michigan
  • Laura Blake Jones, Dean of Students, University of Michigan
  • Moderator: Anna Kirkland, Kim Lane Scheppele Collegiate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies, University of Michigan


Following the Supreme Court's overruling of Roe v. Wade, faculty, students, staff, and administrators have spoken out about the importance of abortion access for members of the Michigan community. These supporters join a long lineage of advocates for reproductive freedom on campus, many of whom worked tirelessly to make abortion accessible under Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban. But how exactly did the university act to support students, faculty, and staff seeking abortion services pre-Roe? 

Rianna Johnson-Levy, a joint Ph.D. student in History and Women’s and Gender Studies, will lead an exploration of how supportive counselors and university administrators worked to ensure safe, legal access to abortion for those under their care in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

Ms. Johnson-Levy spent the summer combing through resources and collections of the Bentley Historical Library to uncover what U-M did to help students pre-Roe, including facilitating interstate travel and working with pro-choice clergy. Her research findings have been compiled into a report, which offers critical lessons for the University in the post-Dobbs, post-Roe moment. 

Rianna Johnson-Levy will present the report, followed by a discussion with U-M’s Dean of Students, Dr. Laura Blake Jones, and CAPS Associate Director of Community Engagement and Outreach, Dr. Christine Asidao. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Anna Kirkland, the Kim Lane Scheppele Collegiate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, with time for Q&A with the audience.

This event is presented by IRWG, in collaboration with the U-M Post-Roe Campus Community Working Group.

COVID-19 SAFETY: Face masks that cover the nose and mouth are required for this event, regardless of vaccination status. If you are feeling sick, please stay home.

By registering for this event, you agree to abide by the above COVID-19 Safety Guidelines. You understand that failure to comply with the above guidelines may result in being asked to leave the event.