Hiltzik: Professional reject red states over abortion laws

A few days ago, a university headhunter contacted Elizabeth T. Jacobs, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Arizona, to gauge her interest in transferring to a university. top in Texas.

Under normal circumstances and professionally, the opportunity looks attractive. “It was a fascinating situation,” Jacobs told me. “It’s at an institution that I respect a lot, and I’m not going to put it out of hand.”

But the political climate in Texas is not normal, in Jacobs’ view. She informed her employer that “under the leadership of the current state, I don’t think my family will be safe in that state.”

From tomorrow, I will enter the open market…. I will not endanger my team.

– Neuroscientist Bryan William Jones of the University of Utah, after the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling

Jacobs had a long list of concerns about the policies implemented by the Republican Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott.

Under the executive order, Abbott banned local government agencies, including school districts and public health agencies, from issuing mask-wearing mandates. He signed a bill that would allow Texas residents to carry guns without a permit.

Texas has the most draconian anti-regime laws in the country. Its infamous SB 8 actually places a bounty on the heads of medical providers and others deemed to have assisted and abetted an illegal abortion, allowing Plaintiffs even from out of state claim damages of more than $10,000 for the violation.

The bonus terms “would discourage the most qualified professionals from accepting work where they could be prosecuted for saving a pregnant person’s life,” Jacobs said. “Over time, that degrades the entire medical apparatus.”

Jacobs depends on the drug methotrexate to treat his rheumatoid arthritis. But because the drug can also be used for abortions, pharmacists in Texas can refuse to dispense it. “I can’t imagine cutting out a medication a doctor prescribes to relieve my symptoms.”

Jacobs is also worried about the environment her two teenage sons will grow up in – one where gun restrictions are being eased even in the face of mass shootings, teachers don’t have time to teaches the entire contest of American history, good and bad. , and where LGBTQ residents are the target of official policies.

“I don’t know who they will become or who they will fall in love with,” she said. “But I don’t want to move to a state where their options are limited.”

Jacobs’ concerns are not unique or even unusual among professionals. Indeed, they are spreading. She July 16 tweet About her meeting with the recruiter was retweeted 7,900 times and garnered 72,600 “likes” from Twitter users.

College faculty in the red states are openly expressing concern about the impact of exclusionary right-wing policies on their efforts to attract students and recruit qualified people to their institutions. Some have made job offers from states with less restrictive abortion laws.

“Starting tomorrow, I will join the open market,” University of Utah neuroscientist Bryan William Jones tweeted June 24, the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, in 1973 established the constitutional right to abortion. Jones said he would gladly bring 12 members of his lab, eight of whom are women, with him. “I will not endanger my team,” he wrote.

Jones noted that the Supreme Court’s ruling, delivered in a case titled Dobbs vs. Jackson’s Women’s Health Foundation automatically triggered the existing abortion ban in Utah. A state judge later temporarily postponed the activation law, but that only added to the uncertainty about abortion laws in Utah.

Dobbs’ decision cleared the way for outright bans or severe restrictions on abortion in at least 25 states.

It is not yet known how profound those restrictions will be in job recruitment or college admissions – the decision is less than a month old and is made after the school year ends in most schools. higher and secondary education systems.

However, early indications are that they may pose new obstacles to recruiting skilled and qualified workers that allow them to choose from a wide range of employment opportunities.

College recruiters expect the political effects of the Dobbs ruling to permeate their discussions with faculty applicants.

David Williamson Shaffer, a professor of education at the University of Wisconsin who successfully recruited a candidate last year who was also endorsed by Stanford and Harvard, said quality of life was a key issue in the discussions. recruitment essay.

“We spent a lot of time discussing the quality of life here,” Shaffer told me. “As a recruiter, I have to look someone in the eye and tell them I think this would be a good place to be.”

Today, Shaffer says, “I’m not entirely sure I can do that to someone of the age that they’re thinking about having a baby.”

Dobbs’ ruling triggered Wisconsin’s 173-year ban on abortion, which makes abortion a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. All clinics in Wisconsin immediately suspend abortion services.

“I would have to be honest with someone, even past that stage of their life, about the consequences that will come for health care insurance,” says Shaffer. “It will absolutely come up in the discussion, and it will absolutely be an issue the next time I have to recruit someone.”

When a new post inviting applicants to the position of director of information technology at Alice L. Walton School of Medicine appeared on Educause, a website for college staff, it drew a lot of responses from experts. Experts said they would not consider taking a job under an anti-distortion policy like the one in Arkansas.

Arkansas bans all abortions with “very few exceptions,” according to the Guttmacher Institute. Among other restrictions, the state bans medical abortions – those that don’t require surgery – through “non-essential regulations,” including banning teleprescription or mail-in delivery. .


Countries that implement regulations restricting abortion are not benefiting college applicants and professional workers.

(Guttmacher Institute)

Restrictions on reproductive health care threaten to undermine initiatives in some states to attract or keep their most promising students. That may be the case in Indiana, where the privately funded Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program offers four years of tuition, fees, and free books to successful applicants to colleges and universities. study in the state.

But that didn’t work for a woman I talked to. She said she received her Lilly scholarship in 2012, works as a marketing professional and is engaged to a medical student who is another Lilly scholar. (She spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid political consequences.)

Now, they are living in a situation where, in a post-Dobbs world, it is possible to force people to become pregnant and give birth against their will. She worries about data showing that states with restricted access to abortion, like Indiana lawmakers may try to enact in an upcoming special session, have poor maternal health outcomes. worse than states that allow a holistic view of reproductive health care.

“If I miscarry, I don’t want to be afraid of being accused of causing it,” she told me. “If, because of a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy, I need an abortion, I don’t want to fear medical care being delayed because doctors are being threatened by the state not taking their Hippocratic oath.”

She and her fiancé hope to move to Illinois next year, assuming he can secure medical residency in that state, “due to concerns about my safety as a person who can pregnant and for my fiancé who is a medical professional,” she told me.

High school students applying to college are removing institutions in several states from their list of desired destinations.

“Many students come to our counselors with relationships,” says David Santos, chief executive officer of Prepory, a Florida-based college applied coaching service with the largest clients in Florida, California, and Texas. Concerned about the college list they’ve built or want to reconsider. and New Jersey.

Santos says that in all cases, female students are the ones who initiate discussions with counselors about reproductive health law, but female and male students are raising questions about the treatment of LGBTQ residents in some areas. certain state.

Conversations between Prep class counselors and their younger clients indicate that “students will be more influenced by geography than they have been in the past,” according to the counselor’s memo. pellets. Santos hopes this will be “a constant consideration for students for many years to come”.

Workers, professionals and students may find themselves faced with a small part of the United States where health care and other social rights are honored. Arizona, where Jacobs now works, is poised to implement a strict “humanity” law that “classifies fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs as “humans” starting from the moment of conception,” as the Center for Reproductive Rights describes.

The law has been temporarily blocked by a federal court, but if allowed to go into effect, it could expose women to criminal prosecution for miscarriages and stillbirths, critics say. jar.

The political climate at home prompted Jacobs to start looking for opportunities elsewhere. She said: “I said that the situation I am in right now is like jumping from a pan into a fire. “I’ve been in the frying pan, and I’m planning to leave Arizona as soon as I can. I just know I don’t want to move to a state with similar draconian laws.”

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-07-19/as-professionals-flee-anti-abortion-policies-red-states-start-to-see-a-brain-drain Hiltzik: Professional reject red states over abortion laws

Edmund DeMarche

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