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Censorship in Medical Education & the Humanities

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, states across the country have restricted access to abortion and, often, to speech and information about abortion. These restrictions have intersected in unusual ways with education about reproductive health in medical schools and residency programs. They also form an intriguing parallel with a new wave of legislative restrictions, often enacted in the same states, on teaching about race, sex, and gender identity in K-12 and college settings. This panel features experts on reproductive health, free expression, and higher education who will place these two forms of educational censorship in conversation with one another, exploring how censorship in one educational arena can implicate other educational settings and wider conversations.

PEN America is grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their support of this event.



Nadine Farid Johnson headshotNadine Farid Johnson serves as PEN America’s Washington director. An attorney and advocate with a focus in democracy, human rights, and governance, she has a breadth of experience across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Most recently, she served as executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, where she led the expansion of the affiliate’s advocacy, reach, and impact. She is a former United States diplomat whose work spanned the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and multilateral affairs. Prior to entering public service, she was a professor of constitutional, international, and intellectual property law at Gonzaga University and a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.


Nikki Diaz is a fourth-year medical student at Duke University School of Medicine. She is passionate about gynecology, and is looking forward to a career where she can advocate and promote justice for her patients. She is involved with local abortion access organizations which have given her the opportunity to see the impact recent legislation has had on patients throughout North Carolina and beyond.


Beverly A. Gray, MD is originally from western North Carolina and completed her undergraduate and medical training at UNC-Chapel Hill. She came to Duke for residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology, where she stayed to join the academic faculty practice. She currently leads the residency program and serves as the Division Director for the Women’s Community and Population Health. Her clinical interests are complex family planning, obstetric care, and transgender health. Her research interests are contraceptive counseling, pain control during office gynecologic procedures, and medical education. She lives in Durham with her husband and two children.

Eric Mlyn, PhD is a Distinguished Faculty Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Lecturer at Duke’s Sanford School for Public Policy. He was the founding Executive Director of DukeEngage and Assistant vice Provost for Civic Engagement. Before that he was the founding director of the Robertson Scholars Program and served on the Political Science Faculty of UNC-Chapel Hill. He collaborates with colleagues across campus on the project Democracy and American Higher Education.