Overview of Supreme Court decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and its impact at UT Austin

Decision Overview

On June 24, 2022, as part of a ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion. The Dobbs decision gives individual states authority to regulate abortion.

In 2021, Texas passed HB 1280—the Human Life Protection Act—commonly referred to as the Texas "trigger law." This law was "triggered" into effect when the Roe case was overturned. HB 1280 prohibits all abortions in Texas, with exceptions for when “the pregnant female…has a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that places the female at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function.”

UT Austin's Role Following the Decision

As a state agency, UT Austin, including our academic medical, nursing and pharmacy schools, and our health care providers, follows both federal and state laws.

We acknowledge that members of our campus community have a wide range of opinions on this issue. Bolstered by our research and teaching missions, our role is to welcome people of all beliefs while maintaining an environment where free speech rights are protected. To that end, the university welcomes free exercise of those rights including the right to assemble, express, and speak. Community members expressing various viewpoints on this issue speak for themselves, not the university.

As a public higher education institution with accredited academic medical, nursing and pharmacy schools, we teach future health care providers. Part of that mission is ensuring they receive the training necessary to complete their board requirements. This includes procedures to terminate pregnancy when necessitated by medical circumstances and allowed by law.

The University of Texas supports members of our campus community impacted by the changing legal landscape and in managing their individual healthcare decisions, while also following federal and state laws. UT Health Austin, University Health Services, the Counseling and Mental Health Center, the Title IX office, the HealthPoint Employee Assistance Program and our Human Resources Benefit Specialists are available to provide information, resources and support to our community as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Texas law now prohibit?

HB 1280 broadly prohibits elective abortions in Texas (including pharmaceutical or medical abortions) with exceptions as noted above.

What about when a miscarriage occurs? Is medical treatment still considered legal in these situations?

Treatment for miscarriage and early pregnancy loss is not within the scope of HB 1280 despite the medical term for miscarriage being abortion. Our providers will continue to care for patients with these and other pregnancy complications, including ectopic pregnancies, as they are distinct from elective abortions under Texas laws. Additionally, our providers will continue to care for patients using best therapeutic interventions in the case of other medical emergencies, which includes situations where the patient's life is at risk.

Does state law end access to the Plan B pill?

Emergency contraception—commonly known as the "morning after" pill and available over the counter as Plan B—is not prohibited.

Will UT's Dell Medical School continue to teach and train OB/GYN medical students and residents on the procedure to terminate pregnancies?

Dell Med will teach and train as needed to maintain accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which is currently revisiting its language to reflect the legal changes related to access for some training programs. Dell Med will ensure that graduates are able to safely and competently perform all procedures necessary to preserve the life and health of pregnant patients, including those who require non-elective terminations. As was already the case, residents with religious or moral objections may opt out of certain training.

What health care options and procedures are covered by our UT System benefit plans?

Health insurance coverage provided by the employee health plan, UT Select, and the student health plan, Academic Blue, are categorized as gold-level plans under the Affordable Care Act criteria for medical, behavioral health and pharmacy coverage. The plans include but are not limited to birth control, reproductive health services, prenatal, delivery and postpartum care.

Abortion services, consistent with state law, are not covered except for exceptions outlined in HB 1280. As with any medical service or treatment, travel expenses to receive such care is not covered.

For questions about current plan coverage, both in- and out-of-network, please consult these resources below:

UT Select for Employees:

Academic Blue for Students and Student Employees:

What reproductive education and care options are available at the university?

University Health Services offers a variety of reproductive health care services for students, such as annual wellness exams and education, pregnancy testing, and information on contraceptives and pregnancy prevention. UHS has never provided abortion care, so that has not changed with the new law.

What kind of support and guidance can our human resources, medical and mental health care providers offer to those in need?

The University of Texas supports all community members as they seek to understand their options and make decisions about their health care. We will continue to provide relevant facts, information and referrals for health care patients—both students and employees—while also following state and federal laws.

For more information about services and appointments, please connect with the following organizations:

Are scheduling options available if a community member needs to miss class or work as a result of illness or medical care?

Students seeking guidance on their academic options while managing a medical or mental health concern may contact Student Emergency Services. Additional accommodations support may be available from the Disability & Access office.

Employees seeking guidance on their leave options while managing a medical or mental health concern may review the university's employee leave options online and/or contact their HR Benefits Specialist.