Statement from Richard Besser, MD, in Response to the Supreme Court’s Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

    • June 24, 2022

The following is a statement from Dr. Richard Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

“For nearly 50 years, the Supreme Court has recognized and upheld the core rights to privacy and reproductive healthcare that are at the heart of Roe v. Wade and are supported by a majority of Americans. This decision strips that fundamental right from our constitutional fabric. It allows states to assert government control over a person’s healthcare decisions. It will solidify and exacerbate persistent health inequities for women and other pregnant people. And it places other rights critical to health and wellbeing—such as access to contraception—in jeopardy. In short, it represents a monumental setback in efforts to make the United States a healthier and more equitable nation.

“In the United States, health is often determined by factors such as race, income, and geography. This ruling epitomizes the inherent unfairness of that reality. The ramifications will be felt nationwide but fall most acutely on residents of more than 20 states where abortion will automatically or quickly become illegal—many of whom lack the financial means to travel to a different state to obtain legal abortion care. It will severely and disproportionately impact women of color who already face unconscionably high maternal mortality rates, as well as young women and women with low incomes who comprise most abortion patients in this country. And it fails to recognize that even the most basic social and financial supports critical to raising children—a living wage, health insurance, paid sick and family medical leave, affordable childcare, nutritious food, and safe housing—are out of reach for millions of people.  

“Dobbs joins the annals of major Supreme Court decisions for all the wrong reasons. This decision is another injustice to the core health equity principles of respecting individual autonomy regarding healthcare decisions and preserving access to the full array of reproductive healthcare services. As a Foundation focused on building a Culture of Health where every person has a fair and just opportunity for health and wellbeing, we believe unequivocally that individuals seeking reproductive healthcare deserve to be seen, heard, represented, cared for, and supported—and that policies at all levels of government should reflect those principles in action.” 


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, we are working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937