written by Lori A. Brown, FAIA and Jordan Kravitz, AIA
As in many other parts of the world, abortions are extremely common health procedures. In the United States, nearly one in four women will have an abortion by age 45. With the overturn of Roe v Wade this past June, there is predicted to be an exponential increase of women seeking care in states where abortion remains legal. This is already evidenced by the increase of travel due to at least twelve states having now banned most abortions. “Abortion tourism” in legal states will most likely cause a significant need to expand care – whether it is through building new clinics, renovating and adding to existing ones, and/or increasing the hours clinics will need to stay open. Not long after the leaked Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, we planned to create a private and secure national database of architects willing to provide design services for reproductive healthcare facilities in states where abortion would remain legal. These services may include design of buildings or medical offices, site selections and analysis, assistance with zoning, building codes, planning approvals, or building permits, and construction oversight and management.
Our approach is two-pronged. We knew we wanted to act as quickly as possible, channeling our rage, shock, despair, and utter disappointment into movement forward. The most immediate action was a call across our various social media platforms asking for those who are willing to add their names to the list to directly email us. To date, we have heard from almost 200 architects representing 34 states and the Washington D.C. This list represents the incredible diversity of our profession; there are those from design award boutique firms, large corporate offices, government architects, educators, and architect code experts.
The second more comprehensive and time-consuming aspect of the project was in creating a survey that will ask architects their willingness to provide design services for health centers that provide abortion services. The survey will begin with architects from four states where abortion remains legal: New Mexico (600 architects), California (1500), Colorado (700), and Oregon (500). The local governments of these states have come out in public support of abortion and, in doing so, are creating safe havens for women who seek care. As the project continues, our goal is to survey architects in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
We hope that these efforts will accomplish several things. First, we want to normalize the conversation surrounding abortion clinics, healthcare design, and the built environment within the architectural community. Abortion has remained a taboo topic that historically, few architects have publicly accepted to work on. Secondly, we want to change the narrative that architects are unwilling to provide design services to help build and/or expand abortion clinics. The creation of a secure database of architects will allow for easier connections to be made with abortion providers needing help with design work. Finally, the survey will help generate a more thorough database. The database will have an additional directory of potential partners for future projects, including but not limited to, other design professionals, contractors, and sub-contractors.
This project will contribute to the larger efforts to provide and support abortion access in the United States. Millions of women and millions of families will benefit from architects willing to work with reproductive healthcare facilities and our discipline has much to contribute. Please help spread the word.
¹ Jones, R., & Jerman, J. (2022). Population Group abortion rates and lifetime incidence of abortion: United States, 2008–2014. American Journal of Public Health, 112(9), 1284–1296. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.2017.304042
² The New York Times, “Tracking the States Where Abortion Is Now Banned,“ The New York Times, August 26, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/us/abortion-laws-roe-v-wade.html.
8th EWORA Conference & MEDNIGHT MST GALA
"Two paths to equality: Increasing female leadership in research means linking bottom-up and top-down efforts"
Submit your Tales Until July 31, 2023!
4th Young Researchers at Schools International Meeting
EWORA Annual General Assembly, 14 June 2023, Online.