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Knowledge Portal > News > Posts > UW Ob-Gyn statement: Racism is a public health crisis
June 02
UW Ob-Gyn statement: Racism is a public health crisis

Dear Colleagues,

Racism is a public health crisis. Over the past several months, we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affect people of color. And last week, we witnessed the violent death of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department.

We understand that these injustices deeply impact our colleagues, patients and communities of color, and we extend our compassion to members of our staff, faculty, trainees, and community experiencing pain and grief in this time. We must also acknowledge that our words and good intentions are not enough. 

In the UW Department of Ob-Gyn, our mission is to improve the health of women and babies in Wisconsin and beyond. We will never accomplish that mission without addressing and combatting racism and discrimination in all its forms.

As leaders in women’s health and public health, we have a responsibility to take action now to dismantle individual and institutional racism. We endorse the action steps proposed by the Association of American Medical Colleges 

  • We must acknowledge and speak out against all forms of racism, discrimination, and bias in our environments in our institutions, communities, and society. 
  • We must stand in solidarity with the black community and speak out against unjust and inhumane incidents of violence.
  • We must demonstrate empathy and compassion and acknowledge the pain and grief that the families and the communities of these victims are experiencing.
  • We must take the lead in educating ourselves and others to address these issues head on.
  • We must be deliberate and partner with local communities, public health agencies, and municipal governments to dismantle structural racism and end police brutality. 
  • We must employ anti-racist and unconscious bias training and engage in interracial dialogues that will dispel the misrepresentations that dehumanize our black community members and other marginalized groups. 
  • We must move from rhetoric to action to eliminate the inequities in our care, research, and education of tomorrow’s doctors.

Please join us as we strive towards a more just world.

With respect,

Laurel W. Rice, MD

Chair, Department of Obstetrics and  Gynecology

Ellen Hartenbach, MD

Vice Chair of Education and Faculty  Development


Bala Bhagavath, MD 

Director, Division of Reproductive  Endocrinology and Infertility 

Igor Iruretagoyena, MD 

Director, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine


Greg Bills, MD

Vice Chair of Clinical Operations

David Kushner, MD

Vice Chair of Clinical Research


Ian Bird, PhD

Vice Chair of Research


Manish Patankar, PhD

Director, Division of Reproductive Sciences


Deborah Ehrenthal, MD, MPH

Director, Division of Reproductive and  Population Health

Steve Rose, MD

Director, Division of Gynecologic Oncology


Dobie Giles, MD, MS, MBA, FACOG

Director, Division of Female Pelvic Medicine  and Reconstructive Surgery

Vice Chair of Finance



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