Response to U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson

Dear Cooper Union,

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, while anticipated, was devastating to people across the nation and in our own community. It stripped women of long-held rights to exercise control over their own bodies, to make their own healthcare decisions, to have legal access to end a pregnancy in a safe way, and to exercise the autonomy necessary to be full, free, and equal participants in society. Abortion is a deeply personal matter that has become highly politicized. With yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, there are new political, legal, and moral debates to be had. There are new votes to be cast, and each and every one of us can exert agency by using our voice and exercising our right to vote.

No matter where you stand on the issue of abortion, what is certain as these debates continue to play out, is that individuals with the ability to bear children will lack basic legal access to safe reproductive healthcare in many places across the country. The Cooper Union is proud to be in the state of New York, where these basic freedoms are protected, and we want to remind our community that our student and employee health insurance and other benefits cover comprehensive family planning, including contraception, abortion, and counseling.

As an institution and community, The Cooper Union since its inception has been a place that has sought to embrace and support the autonomy and fundamental rights of all people. Discussions and debates among people from all walks of life on how best to provide for and protect those rights have been at the center of this institution’s role as a place of public gathering, civic organizing, scholarship, and practice for generations. The fight for women’s rights, in particular, have had a home at The Cooper Union for more than 160 years, from the time of suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the 1860s to just this month, when Governor Kathy Hochul, in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision, signed a suite of bills into law on the Great Hall stage, safeguarding abortion rights in New York State. While the Governor has declared that New York will remain a safe harbor for those seeking abortions, we have students, faculty, and staff who come to The Cooper Union from other places, including states where reproductive healthcare services are already being eliminated. The Cooper Union stands ready to support students and employees in identifying the best ways of accessing a full range of reproductive healthcare.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision has also continued the path the current Court has been forging of retracting basic human rights and protections. Yesterday’s decision comprises written opinions that opened the door to the deeply concerning possibility of revisiting prior rulings on other fundamental rights currently afforded in this country, including the right to contraception and to marry someone of the same sex. At any time, and especially during Pride Month, this kind of signal lands as callous disregard for millions of Americans who simply seek to live their lives with genuine and authentic love and with equal protection under the law.

Always, and particularly in times like this, I take comfort and pride in the fact that The Cooper Union has, from the beginning, been a pioneering institution that has sought to catalyze societal progress. Each of us plays a role in stewarding that legacy and ensuring its continued relevance for our shared future, and I look forward to our continued work together on this and so many other fronts. As always, I am grateful to be a part of a community that cares deeply, is expressive and supportive, can engage in rigorous and informed debate, and works together to navigate times of uncertainty and varying perspectives with compassion and understanding. 



  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.